Off line

I’ve been offline for a few days, and will be a few more.  Just couldn’t make the internet work on my computer.  (So, hello from Anthony’s computer).

Time in Jeffrey’s Bay has been wonderful!  We went down to Tsitsikama on Tuesday, to Storms River Mouth.  Once again, amazing!  Tomorrow (Thursday 15 March), I’m off to Port Elizabeth for flight to Jo’burg, for flight to Atlanta for flight to Ashville.  I arrive back noonish on Friday, 16 March.

There we will more to come!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

to make an end is to make a beginning

This is my last night at the monastery, and I am sad to leave.  My experience has been a good one but not without some real struggle (which ain’t over yet).  But I have made good beginning.  A very good one.

Precisely what has begun I cannot fully articulate.  The sowing has begun; what is the harvest to be?  I am learning to live with and love the questions more than fretting over what “the answers” are.  This does not fit what I want.  It may not fit what others want from me, but it is what it is.  This is about life, life with God, life with myself.  I’ve never been great with “goals” and such.  I think planning and goal setting and measurable objectives are helpful tools and important things in the business world and in the Church (to a point).  But in the Spiritual life, such things are death-dealing.  We do not “arrive” someplace, we journey and struggle into becoming someone.

The Monastery of Mariya uMama we Themba (Mary the Mother of our Hope) has been an incredible experience.  I’ll be back here again.

So, what do you do on your last day in a monastery?  Party!  The monks “day off” starts at the end of the Vesper service (which begins at 5.30 pm and ends 6ish).  So, one must scrounge up supper from leftovers in the kitchen, and this is usually a communal activity.  With Brother Daniel, I went shopping for some special items for this evening’s repast: wines, cheeses, fresh breads, ,  some very tasty paté (I don’t do liver, but I liked this), ice cream (with Bro. D’s amazing chocolate-raspberry sauce), etc.  I toasted and thanked them for their guidance, wisdom, kindness, and hospitality.  Oh, and yes, I preached this morning.  They said they liked it.

But, the Wild Sabbatical isn’t over yet. Tomorrow I’m off to visit with Anthony Sutton in Jeffrey’s Bay.  So, stay tuned!


What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.    (T.S. Eliot Little Gidding)


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Well Said

Richard Rohr said well today so much of what is going on in me.  This is from his daily meditation that comes to me, via email.

Struggling with one’s own shadow self, facing interior conflicts and moral failures, undergoing rejections and abandonment, daily humiliations, experiencing any kind of abuse or your own clear limitations, even accepting that some people hate you: All of these are gateways into deeper consciousness and the flowering of the soul. These experiences give us a privileged window into the naked (read “undefendable”) now, because impossible contradictions are staring us in the face. Much-needed healing, forgiving what is, weeping over and accepting one’s interior poverty and contradictions are normally necessary to invite a person into the contemplative mind. (Watch Paul do this in a classic way from the depths of Romans 7:14 to the heights of his mystic poetry in most of Romans 8.)

In facing the contradictions that we ourselves are, we become living icons of both/and. Once we can accept mercy, it is almost natural to hand it on to others. You become a conduit of what you yourself have received.

From The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, pp. 125-126

Facing failures, short-comings, and mistakes, can feel overwhelming – and often I have been.  I regret them, feel sorry for them, lament them, but cannot change them.  Sometimes they seem to haunt me.  It is true that my life has had many good things, too.  But they seem to flyout the window.

Living in the midst of those haunting failures, I get to a point of numbness.  They are just ‘there’.  And there is nothing that can be done.  Acceptance of what has been (and I’m struggling to do that) is the way to move beyond them (I’m struggling with that, as well).

Rohr’s words feel a bit like cold comfort, but they are comfort, nonetheless.  Am I being invited into the contemplative mind?

Once we can accept mercy . . . .

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Living Questions

As I’ve been pondering what this sabbatical trip has meant, a friend emailed me, “it is often after the fact that we gain the most insight.  So it may be a while for you to understand YOU!!  And a while before you comprehend what this retreat is doing FOR you.”  Thanks, Fr. B., for your insight.

We all want “answers.”  And sooner rather than later.  But the questions are the place we start.  As the German poet Rilke wrote:

…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.         Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 in Letters to a Young Poet

Letting go of outcomes, expectations, control.  Sounds like living the questions, and one day, without noticing, gradually, I’ll live into the answers (whatever they may be).

So, today, I travel with Brother Josias to Kenton (for some monastery business).  Sunday, I preach.

Monday, I am going to Port Elizabeth.  Anthony Sutton has very kindly invited me to come to Jeffrey’s Bay for a few days before flying back next Thursday.  I’ll have to suffer at the beach.  Oh, the trials.  For those oldsters who remember the movie The Endless Summer, well Jeffrey’s Bay is the place – best waves in the world.  Too bad I’m not a surfer.

And, thanks for all the comments on my last post. Mary McGlauflin shared lyrics to the song she quoted, and Michael Hudson, the great prayer from Thomas Merton.


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

fides quaerens intellectum – well, sort of

4 March 2012 – Sunday

Some fewer distractions, more silence, and some letting go have helped me relax into things the last few days.  Lower key, less flailing about, less intensity.  So, well, there you are.

I have done some reading that’s included some dragon riding, naked spirituality, Shakespeare, and scripture.  I’m preaching next Sunday here, so I want to put my best foot forward.  I wonder which one that is?

Self:  small self and big self, false self and true self, non-self and more-than-self, dying to self in order to be fully alive (thanks to Michael for this line).  My dragon-riding coach Robert Wicks writes about employing both clarity and kindness as one takes a long, truthful, honest look at one’s self.  Scary business, that.

Navigating between honesty and kindness is never easy; and it’s especially difficult when one is glaring at one’s own life.  (Or should I say, when one’s life is glaring at him!)

The distractions only work for a time.  Then it is back into the darkness that bears a hope of light.  I keep trying to solve the riddle. (Never thought my delight in crossword puzzles would become a framework for looking at life.  Let me warn you:  It is a very ineffective one).

So, I’m trying to return to praxis beyond “practicing:”  It’s not about practicing till I get it right, but the ongoing practice of life, entering the silence without expectation.  Even the expectation that I will have no expectations.

A few lines from Thomas Merton’s “Fire Watch, July 4, 1952” from the Sign of Jonas

God, my God, God Whom I meet in darkness, with You it is always the same thing!  Always the same question that nobody knows how to answer! . . . . .

While I am asking questions which You do not answer, You ask me a question which is so simple that I cannot answer.  I do not even understand the question.         


Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Dragons, again

. . . for the first time I really understood what Arthur Schopenhauer intended in his warning, “We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.”  . . . . Too often in an effort to be a better person, we only wind up trying to be another person — a sure recipe for continued failure and a sense of “lostness.”              Robert J. Wicks, Riding the Dragon, Sorin Books, © 2003, pp. 90-91

I am frustrated that I’m frustrated.  With all my letting go of expectations, I keep expecting something.  For all of the silence that I seek, I keep waiting for a voice.  The letting go of outcomes hasn’t come out the way I thought.

I’ve got some more wrestling to do.

Dragons have spiny backs . . .

and do not come with saddles.


Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Addo – I know I shouldn’t be having this much fun

Tuesday 28 February 2012  –  While Saturday was a great day at the beach, the Pineapple, and the pub, Sunday was okay and Monday was tough.  A lot of struggling with the Holy One, the Big guy, God.  And, I want to write more on that.  But then today happened; and it seems more urgent to share some things. (And I can put off writing about the tough stuff).

I went to Addo.  Elephants, zebra, water buffalo, kudu, meerkats, bush pigs (wart hogs), red hartebeest, and lion.  All in one day.

Many of you from Calvary remember the Rev. Anthony Sutton.  A good friend of Mother Liz, Anthony is a minister in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.  Those who went with Liz on pilgrimage here know him, and many may remember several years back when Anthony visited Calvary and preached.  Well, Anthony picked me up at the monastery this morning and took me to Addo Elephant Park.

I’ll share a picture of two here, but uploading them takes quite a while.  An amazing day.


Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments