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

God’s Majesty to be Praised – Br. Curtis Almquist

Isaiah 11:1-10

The Euclid Telescope made news just several weeks ago. You may have seen in the media an astonishing sample of photos from this new robotic telescope, launched in July, and which is mapping the “extragalactic sky.” [i] I find most striking a photo of what is being called the  “Horsehead Nebula,” an equine-shaped cloud with baby stars. It is many light years away: 1,375 light years away from us. One light year is almost 6 trillion miles from earth. This “Horsehead Nebula” we can now see is 1,375 x 6 trillion miles away from us.[ii]

If I sound as if I know what I am talking about, I do not. I know virtually nothing about the science of astronomy. I am a reader, and an awestruck observer, as you may be also. This interstellar experience of the vastness of God’s creation is the very thing we read about in the Psalms. The psalmist writes about the God, the Creator:

“Your majesty is praised in the heavens…
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
who are we that you should be mindful of us…?”[iii]

Who are we?  We are among those whom the scriptures call “children of God” who have lived the generations of time before us and who, in God’s mercy, may live generations of time beyond us. This is what God has had in mind since the dawn of creation: we come from God, and we belong to God, and we have captured God’s desire to share life in eternity with us. All of us, all God’s creatures. Read More

Impressive Foolishness – Br. Jim Woodrum

1 Corinthians 1:17-25
Matthew 25:1-13

Nat Geo’s ‘Free Solo’ Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urRVZ4SW7WU

In June of 2017, American rock climber Alex Honnold did the unthinkable: He climbed Yosemite National Park’s “El Capitan,” a rock face that rises 3,200 feet above ground level. For laymen, we might think that is pretty impressive, but then again, a lot of people climb El Capitan each year. The difference is that Alex climbed El Capitan, from bottom to top, without any ropes or safety equipment. The only thing he had on his body besides t-shirt, shorts, and climbing shoes was his chalk bag to keep his hands dry in order to grip the oftentimes slight crags in the limestone. This type of climbing is called “Free Soloing.” Climbing El Cap with ropes, harnesses, and even a climbing partner equals impressive. Climbing El Cap free solo equals…well, we might say that’s foolish. Read More

A Severe Mercy – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis AlmquistMalachi 3:1-5

The prophet Malachi – whom we heard in our first lesson – could not be using more extreme language to prepare us for the coming Messiah. Our messenger comes “like a refiner’s fire and like fuller’s soap.”

  • A refiner’s fire is a metallurgy process dating back to antiquity. A refiner’s fire is a crucible for heating precious metal, like gold and silver, to a molten state, from which then the dross – the impurities – are skimmed off. It’s a searing process, at a precise temperature for a specific length of time, which produces the pure, precious metal.
  • The fullers were the launderers. Fuller’s soap is a caustic cleansing agent, made from lye and other repugnant chemicals.[i] Fuller’s soap was used to purify fabric and make it white. The stench from this soap was so great that the fullers had to work outside the Jerusalem city walls as they stamped on garments with their feet or used wooden bats in tubs of this blanching soap.

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