Mistakes are a waste only if they’re not remembered with the wisdom that comes from hindsight and the liberation that comes with forgiveness. If your mistakes have not turned into compost in your soul, if they still stink, your mistakes just need a little more time, probably more light or aeration. The rich compost will come. Make your mistakes your offerings to God.
Think about this both literally and symbolically: what people feed on. Many people’s daily diet is full of despair, hopelessness, anger, fear, loneliness, and the absence of dignity. Ruminate on Jesus’ powerful and precious metaphor of salt, and consider how you can be as salt to others, to transform the daily diet of their life experience.
The world is an icon. We will see and sense the glory and majesty of God, the presence of God, through God’s creation. No one thing is God: no one person is God, nor a flower or leaf, nor a mountain or an ocean, nor an animal or bird. But in every creature we find traces of the Creator, and the experience is absolutely amazing.
All of us have a role in reclaiming Eden in this world. Whether we’re tilling the soil, sowing seeds, watering, weeding, feeding, beaming light, harvesting, sharing the bounty, we all have a distinct role in the little garden patch of our own life. It’s God’s garden, and we’re given a role for a blink in time to help steward the garden’s fecundity for all.
Commemoration of Edmund James Peck
The portion of Psalm 107 appointed for today – about “going down to the sea in ships… plying trade in deep water… the stormy winds… and then beholding the works of the Lord” – this psalm reads like a biography of Edmund James Peck, whom we commemorate today. Born in the tenements of Manchester, England, in 1850, he entered the Royal Navy while he was still a child, intending to make the Navy his life career. But then a series of near-fatal illnesses and shipboard accidents amazingly led him to experience what he called “the movements of grace,” an experience of Christ “saving him,” quite literally. He became convinced he was to volunteer as a missionary to the Canadian Arctic. And he set off. He would spend most of the next 40 years among the Inuit and Cree people on an immense island in the Arctic – Baffin Island – an area of almost 200,000 square miles. There are two seasons on the Baffin Island: winter and August, when the summertime temperatures sometimes even reach 40 degrees.
We have been created in the image of God, whose opening act in creation in the Book of Genesis is generosity. The words “genesis” and “generosity” spring from the same etymological source. Long before death pulls from your grip what you cannot take to the grave, acknowledge it all as gift, and gift it back to God as an offering for God’s use.
The psalm appointed for today, Psalm 62, includes the phrase: “For God alone my soul in silence waits”; however another translation of this text is: “Before God, I am silence.” Not, “I am silent”; but rather, “Before God, I am silence.” And therefore, when God speaks, I am silence: I am an empty, open vessel to receive. Our life’s invitation is to learn to “be silence” so we have space to receive the work and words of God. It is a good thing to cultivate stillness and silence within ourselves.
But for many people, life seems to lose its cultivation because of suffering. We witness, and we may personally experience, tremendous suffering, loss, fear, grief, despair that may simply leave us or others speechless and empty, feeling very much alone and abjectly vulnerable. This is the silence that visits the elderly who have lost their health, lost their companions, lost their meaning in life; the silence of those who are very sick with no help at hand and the silence of those who are very sick with help at hand; the silence of those who are imprisoned because of prejudice and racism, and those imprisoned behind bars; the silence of those who live with inexpressible shame. So many people experience a silence that is unbidden and which may seem to them so vapid, despairing, orphaning.
There are moments when our prayer has run out, where the living water has dried up, when we are overwhelmed, full of despair, angry, ashamed, or afraid…and we feel we cannot pray. And that is our prayer. That prayer may be a mess, as much of a mess as a young child who is crying, screaming, hungry, or lost. But we are children of God, and God loves children.
-Br. Curtis Almquist, SSJE
As unique as Mary is, you have so much in common with her. Down through the ages, there has been no one else who was asked to give birth to and bear what she was called to. And so for you. Mary is your companion, especially at those moments when you say, like she did: “How can I face this, do this, bear this, survive what is coming at me?” Mary is your companion. Build on that relationship.
-Br. Curtis Almquist, SSJE