A View of Heaven

Our language limps when we speak of God’s love for us. We have no real understanding of infinite or eternal. But in the end, it seems best if we think of heaven as perfect union with God, the giver of life.

Though we may not be able to comprehend heaven to its fullest extent here on earth and in our wounded state, we can and do experience the presence of God within us because that is where God’s presence is. In a way, the best vision of God is not so much looking up or out, but looking within our very selves. After all, we know God made us in his image and likeness.

Thus, we have the ability to understand the two most important aspects of God: to love and to forgive. And we are capable of both.

 
—from the blog “This Life and the Next”

The Things We Remember Best

 

The things that we remember the best, the things that matter the most to us when we remember them, are the slightest things, by the measurement of the world; but they are not slight at all. 

They are so huge and crucial and holy that we do not yet have words big enough to fit them, and have to resort to hints and intimations to even get anywhere close.

—from the book Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace

Listen to Your Own True Self

One thing I have learned as a dad and a husband is that no one listens to me, and they ought not to, either. You ought to listen to your own true self. I can maybe help you tiptoe a little closer to that self by sharing stories that matter, but if you are too cool to play today, swell. I suggest that the sooner you wake up and get it that there actually is a wild grace and defiant courage in people, and there actually are stories that save and change lives, and that there is a lot more going on here than we can ever find words for, and that love and attentiveness and creativity are real and wild and immanent, the cooler and wilder a life you will enjoy while you have such a priceless and inexplicable thing as a life, which goes by awfully fast, my friend.

Believe me, I know.

—from the book Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace

Perhaps Even Today

 

Very elderly men and women will, without the slightest discomfort, hold hands, often both hands, with every single person who stands next to them and talks to them and listens to them, and the first time I noticed this I thought maybe it was for personal safety and security reasons, like being worried about toppling, but the more I noticed it the more it seemed to me that very elderly men and women have stripped away all self-consciousness and worry about what other people might think, and they take a deep honest genuine pleasure in touching their fellow beings, and being touched, and they know better than anyone else how ancient and holy and moving it is to touch and be touched, and they are going to touch and be touched as much as possible in the time granted them to touch and be touched; which seemed to me, as I strolled away from the wedding reception late that evening, arm in arm with the woman I like best, immensely wise, and something to aspire to, perhaps even today, perhaps as soon as you finish reading these words. 

—from the book Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace

Instruments of Peace

How can we become instruments of peace? Fear, anger, bluster, or revenge do not overcome violence; they feed it—whether between people or nations.

Saint Francis of Assisi knew that only love will bring peace: a fierce, gentle love that gives us the courage to face suffering, a love whose power even death cannot defeat. As Christians, we claim this to be divine love, embodied in Jesus: in his ministry, on the cross, and in the resurrection.

Opening ourselves to this fierce love through prayer, and then acting out of it—personally and in our public policies—is the only pathway to peace.

  

Because It's Hard

I was in a monastery the other day and got to talking to a monk who, when I asked him why he was a monk, why he volunteered for a job liable to loneliness, a commitment to an idea no one can ever prove or document, a task that entails years of labor in the belief that somehow washing dishes and cutting grass and listening to pain and chanting in chapel matters in the long scheme of things, said, because it’s hard.

—from the book Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace

At Play in the Fields of the Lord

Praise and adoration take us from our self-preoccupation and lead us outward to God and to the creation that bears God’s perfect imprint. This is the key to the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, who praised God through Brother Sun and Sister Moon, Brother Wind and Sister Water and all creatures.

Like Saint Francis of Assisi, the spirit prompts us to celebrate our brotherhood and sisterhood with other creatures and praise God, not in isolation from creation, but through sunlight, rain, wind, trees, and flowers. Now is a good time for us to praise God in the woods, a garden, a valley, a lake, or at sea.

–from the blog “Pathways to Prayer” by Friar Jack Wintz

The Prayers of a Parent

Three children were granted to us, a girl and then, together, one minute apart, two boys; and my prayers doubled, for now I knew fear for them, that they would sicken and die, that they would be torn by dogs and smashed by cars; and I felt even then the shiver of faint trepidation that someday, if they grew up safely, and did not suffer terrible diseases, and they achieved adulthood, that they would be heart-hammered by all sorts of things against which I could not protect or preserve them; and so I did, I admit it, sometimes beg the Coherent Mercy, late at night, for small pains as their lot, for relatively minor disappointments, for love affairs that would break apart but not savagely, for work that they would like and even maybe love.

In the end, I remember vividly, I boiled all my prayers as a parent down to this one: Take me instead of them. Load me up instead of them. Let me eat the pains they were served for their tables. I don’t think I ever fully understood the deep almost inexplicable love of the Christ for us, why he would accept his own early tortured death as a sacrifice, until I had been a father for a while.

—from the book Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace

Finding God in His Creation

While both Clare and Francis left the world to pursue God insofar as they abandoned their status, wealth and security, never did they renounce the world for the sake of God. Rather, they realized that the created world was the world embraced by God; thus God could not be found apart from the world. The world, not the monastery, was the true cloister.

—from the book Clare of Assisi: A Heart Full of Love

The Truth Will Make You Free

When we tell the truth about who we are and who we have been, the Spirit can move in us. The confession of our sin makes space for freedom. The slow exhale of what was once hidden invites the wind of the Spirit to blow. And on the wind, the saving grace of the Messiah rides.

—from the book Who Does He Say You Are? Women Transformed by Christ in the Gospels

Meeting God in the Upper Room