Desire, Distilled – Br. Keith Nelson

Isaiah 40:1-11
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8

I was blessed in the second year of my novitiate to work with a spiritual director who was a Trappist monk. Once a month, he patiently listened to the many words I would summon as I circled around my inmost experience of prayer. With a verbal precision sifted by silence, and great love, he would wait. And at the right moment, which would always come, he would name the heart of the matter. Suddenly, words would feel small and superfluous, and the way forward obvious, in the presence of a God whose one desire was simply to be with me.

He shared with me an adage I still remember:

Filled with ardent desire
yet not pressing the point
we become a place
where the Lord may rest.

The words capture the essential invitation in swift, clean strokes. We let our thirst for God rise up from within. We refrain from any agenda of our own contriving, any attachment to this or that experience. And we wait. As we wait, it may happen that God rests – and we rest in God, drawn by this harmonious alignment of wills. Read More

Redemption Song – Br. Jim Woodrum

Isaiah 40:1-11; 2 Peter 3:8-15a

If you love domesticated animals like cats, dogs, and horses, or even some unconventional critters like monkeys, beavers, and squirrels, you have probably run across a website called ‘thedodo.com.’ The Dodo serves up emotional, visually compelling, and highly sharable animal-related stories and videos with the aim of making the care of animals a viral cause. The videos that bring a tear to the eye of a sensitive guy like me are the dog rescue videos. There are countless versions of this scenario: someone comes across a mangy, emaciated pup, that is tired, scared, weak, and not far from death. Animal rescuers are called to gather the animal, carefully and patiently doing what is necessary to subdue it while protecting themselves from the pups self-preserving, fear-filled growls, yaps, and snaps. Ultimately, the animal resigns and is taken to a veterinarian for rehabilitation with the hopes of finding it a forever home. The dogs are bathed, shaved, treated for mange, parasites, and other injuries, fed and nourished. Each video is a brief time-lapse record of its recovery, ending with the dog fully recovered, happy, and unrecognizable from the condition it was found in; it’s disposition one of unreserved love and affection. Read More

Peace, Comfort, Hope – Br. James Koester

Br. James KoesterIsaiah 40: 1 – 11
Psalm 85: 1 – 2, 8 – 13
2 Peter 3: 8 – 15a
Mark 1: 1 – 8

Each year I get a little crankier and a little more annoyed by Christmas.

Now, don’t get me wrong, before you write me off as some kind of a monastic Scrooge, let me explain what I mean.

If truth be told, I actually love Christmas. I love the lights, and the tinsel, and the tree. I love the decorations, and the carols, and the crèche, and the baking, (perhaps especially the baking!). I love Christmas. What makes me cranky, and annoyed, is that what many people really just want are the lights, and the tinsel, and the tree. What many people really just want are the decorations, and the carols, and the crèche, and the baking. What many people really just want is the baby and the celebration. What many people don’t want is a saviour. But isn’t that the whole point of Christmas? And you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.[1]

For many, Christmas is about a cute, pudgy, sweet smelling baby, nestled in a bed of clean straw, in a romantically quaint, clean, rustic looking barn, amidst softly falling snow, much as we had yesterday. What they don’t want, is a saviour. And they don’t want a saviour, because that would suggest that we need saving. That would suggest that life isn’t all that we so often pretend it to be. And who wants to admit that life, especially my life, is not perfect, or that I can’t fix it? Read More