Reflection - September 2017


At the close of morning prayer I looked up to see the sun beaming through the window, splashing the African violets with brilliant light. Having tended these plants for years, I gazed on something not visible to me until then: the inner world of the thick leaves. They were fully transparent, allowing me to see the texture of veins and "marrow." It seemed I had been given a special privilege to look inside the hidden life of the violet where photosynthesis takes place. Seeing the violet's secret life, led me to become aware of the fact that most of what is in my life remains concealed, whether in regard to human beings, creatures or nature.
 
In Marrow, Elizabeth Lesser writes in a memoir about being a donor for her sister's bone marrow transplant: "I think about hidden things. Hidden life under the sea, under the ground, under the skin. The buried marrow in my bones and the secret stories in my heart. What are we supposed to see and hear, show and tell? Are things hidden for our own good, or is the human journey about going into the shadows and searching for the deeper truths about ourselves and each other, about life itself?"  
 
James Martin, S.J. also comments on "hiddenness" in his beautifully written book, My Life With the Saints. Martin ponders the hidden life of Jesus during his early years with St. Joseph. He then leads the reader to persons today who live similar lives, starting with the refugees he worked with in Kenya, and then people in other parts of the world: "The hidden life is shared by many people... The middle-aged unmarried woman who looks after her aged mother but whose sacrifices remain largely hidden from her neighbors. The loving parents of the autistic boy who will care for him for his entire life and whose heartaches remain unknown to their friends. The single mother in the inner city who works two jobs to provide an education for her children and whose tiring night shifts are still, after many years, a secret to her daytime coworkers." James Martin concludes that there are "countless hidden lives of love and service of others. The day-to-day pouring out of oneself for God. It astonishes me how many of these people embrace their hidden lives of service with joy."
 
You might look at your own life and notice the hidden part containing kindness and assistance you offer to others, that which most often goes unrecognized except by the recipients. How much of this is done with joy, instead of simple duty or responsibility? Look around. Consider that most of the people you meet have their own "hidden lives," ones that contain sacrifice and love at a level probably not visible or acknowledged.
 
We live with a lot of mystery. In this day of Google with its instant knowledge there's a tendency to dismiss what cannot be seen or proven, to ignore or forget that much of what exists within and around us has the power to influence us as much, or more, than what is observable. I find this reality of "hiddenness" to be a catalyst for humbleness, respect of others, and gratitude. Each day I want my inner eyes to be opened a little wider so my heart and mind will recognize the inherent goodness of others. When that happens I'll have less judgment of those with differences, more appreciation for mystery, and live with a fuller sense of awe.
 
What a different world we could live in if we remembered how much is hidden from view.   

Abundant peace,
Joyce Rupp, OSM
   
Joyce RuppImage result for walking with a smile in the dark

In Thomas Kelley's A Testament of Devotion, he reflects on love, one of the fruits of the Spirit. The past several weeks I kept returning to the following wise words he has written:

It is true that in the experience of Divine Presence that which flows over the ocean of darkness is an infinite ocean of light and love. In the Eternal Now all people become seen in a new way. We enfold them in our love, and we and they are enfolded together within the great Love of God as we know it in Christ....The springings of the Life are ever fresh. In such a sense of Presence there is a vast background of cosmic Love and tender care of all things. ...In the foreground arise special objects of love and concern and tender responsibility. The people we know best, see oftenest, have most to do with, these are re-loved in a new and deeper way. Would that we could re-love the whole world.

Re-love. Such a compelling word. Surely this kind of thing happened during the appearances of the Risen Christ. The disciples of Jesus found themselves beckoned and encouraged into re-loving. They had stood at a distance from the cross, questioned "whether he was the one," locked themselves away in fear after his death, and doubted if his presence was for real. Yes, they needed to re-love Jesus in his risen life, to believe in and trust the past relationship that meant so much to them. And they did re-love him, with full hearts, deeper faith, and gladness of spirit.

Perhaps the Easter season can be a time of our re-loving -a time to look more closely, openly, fully; to be more intentional about caring and extending kindness. Life is, in many ways, one big, extensive journey of re-loving. The coming weeks can be a time to step into this journey with a deliberate intention to re-love family, friends, and those who show up often in our life; to re-love strangers and those in the "distressing disguise" of Christ (a phrase used by Dorothy Day & Mother Teresa about those least appealing to us); to re-love ourselves when we become discouraged with our longing to "be more" and feel we are far from that desire; to re-love those who nurture our spirits by both their affirmation and challenge; to re-love those who claim to be our enemies by pitting themselves against us, whether they be known personally or foreigners living afar; to re-love anyone with whom our love has weakened or been forgotten.

In the daily devotional, Give Us This Day, Marie Louise-Ternier-Gommer writes, "A radical re-orientation in love makes everything look different." This is what Thomas Kelley invites us to do when he suggest that we re-love. When we do so, it does "make everything look different."

 When we re-love we cleanse the past grime of comparison and competition with others and sense a renewed hope about future interactions. When we clear the mirror of our personal failures and the grand expectations of ourselves, we grow in appreciation of who we are. We erase grudges and irritations that deteriorated our love and discover we have restored energy for those relationships. We re-claim our faith in the ever-present Spirit of Love dwelling at the core of all beings and rejoice in seeing this Love abounding around us and within us.

Abundant peace,

 Joyce Rupp



  • Reflection - September 2017 At the close of morning prayer I looked up to see the sun beaming through the window, splashing the African violets with brilliant light. Having tended these plants for years, I gazed on something not visible to me until then: the inner world of the thick leaves. They were fully transparent, allowing me to see the texture of veins and "marrow." It seemed I had been given a special privilege to look inside the hidden life of the violet where photosynthesis takes place. Seeing the violet's secret life, led me to become aware of the fact that most of what is in my life remains concealed, whether in regard to human beings, creatures or nature. In Marrow, Elizabeth Lesser ...
    Posted Apr 17, 2018, 7:05 PM by Nancy DeBiasi
  • Reflection - August 2017 Recently I received an inspiring letter from a woman in her seventies. I was so touched by what she wrote that I asked permission to share her message with you. "Rose" lives in a small town. Each week she commutes by train for an hour into a large metropolis to spend an overnight and a day, giving her daughter a break while she cares for her two children under the age of two.  Rose's description of her journey into the city stirred my soul: "It is the opposite of what many do at my age. I take a commuter train, packed with people, often having to stand at least part of the way. Returning on Friday night, the train ...
    Posted Aug 10, 2017, 7:37 PM by Nancy DeBiasi
  • Reflection - July 2017 Here in the USA we are in the midst of summer. It's a warm, engaging season where people naturally congregate on soccer fields, at farmers' markets, picnics, weddings and all sorts of get-togethers. The long days of light seem to naturally lift spirits and send more dance into our steps. Lately, I have been mindful of the magnificent gift we have in sunlight. While too much of it can burn and sizzle, we cannot survive without this brilliant star's amazing gift of photosynthesis - the marvel of plants and other organisms transforming sunlight into life-giving energy. No wonder Jesus, the great transformer of hearts, called himself "the Light" and also told his followers that they, too, were ...
    Posted Aug 10, 2017, 7:33 PM by Nancy DeBiasi
  • Reflection - June 2017   Pentecost has long been one of my favorite feasts. I find in it a welcoming confidence for the possibility of personal transformation. I offer the following prayer to you as we join in this celebration of gifts that await activation for our spiritual growth. Activating the Fruits of the Spirit The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.  (Gal 5:22) Come, Spirit, assure us that the turbulent animosity and violence of this era can be lessened when we choose to express your love in all we are and all we do.Come, Spirit, plant an ...
    Posted Aug 10, 2017, 7:08 PM by Nancy DeBiasi
  • Reflection - May 2017 In Thomas Kelley's A Testament of Devotion, he reflects on love, one of the fruits of the Spirit. The past several weeks I kept returning to the following wise words he has written:It is true that in the experience of Divine Presence that which flows over the ocean of darkness is an infinite ocean of light and love. In the Eternal Now all people become seen in a new way. We enfold them in our love, and we and they are enfolded together within the great Love of God as we know it in Christ....The springings of the Life are ever fresh. In such a sense of Presence there is a vast background of cosmic Love and ...
    Posted Aug 10, 2017, 6:47 PM by Nancy DeBiasi
  • Reflection -  April 2017  Can we be truly happy for those who enjoy what we do not have? This question arose when I was reading the Easter stories. I noticed how only a few disciples of Jesus actually received the gift of directly encountering his risen presence. Did those without this experience carry some envy or disappointment? Did they covet that direct engagement? Luke's gospel describes two disciples who felt extremely discouraged, choosing to trudge back home to Emmaus, mumbling downheartedly about reports that others had actually came directly in contact with Jesus. They had not experienced this and gave up hope of doing so. (Lk24:13-35)   Their emotions are not strangers to my own heart. During January a begrudging voice in ...
    Posted Apr 9, 2017, 8:30 PM by Nancy DeBiasi
  • Reflection - March 2017   Last summer a comment from an avid swimmer in British Columbia reawakened a valuable truth. When I mentioned a scrape on her arm, Kathy nonchalantly explained, "I get some every summer from the sharp-edged barnacles on the rocks. When my grandson started swimming with me I told him he was bound to get these cuts. One day he called across the water in a proud voice: "I got one, Grandma!" Her grandson obviously accepted this as part of the price for a free-spirited frolic in the ocean. Kathy's comment reminded me that hardly any of us find something rewarding without also having to accept the effort, hardship, challenge, steady determination and vulnerability that often accompany what we ...
    Posted Mar 6, 2017, 9:26 PM by Nancy DeBiasi
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