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(by Linda Barton) Bhutan, November 2000 The young boy Maybe seven grabbed my hand In the dark Held it tight Tighter than I have ever been held He led me through a small gate We were crushed and I worried for him His size I wondered why me He wanted something from me Not what I had expected But to tell me to Go slow Be careful and watch for my life His body shook and I knew He feared for his I moved slowly He pulled me past the others...

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Defilement When I first thought about this subject matter I couldn’t really get a hold of it. Isn’t every space that exists a sacred space? Hasn’t God created everything, making it so? And then when I sat down to think about it some more, an image came to me.  And it led me to see what I really believe about sacred spaces. Now right off the bat, there really is a difference between personal sacred spaces and...

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(by Ziggy Rendler-Bregman) When I am silent it is possible to see particles of dust collide without making a sound, each speck of carbon from the bone of some fallen bird. When I am silent it is possible to hear how song lines flatten the edge of time, my own heartbeat below the bridge, where a stream with its memory of cloud flows into a deeper river. When I am silent it is possible to take the smallest hand and walk the garden wall...

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(by Johanna Courtleigh) I close my eyes to see myself there in the darkness where my heart begins her breathing. I am breath. The give and take of planets and trees. The rise and fall of tides. The painted skies of dawn and sunset. The chrysalis opening. The cocoon giving forth to wing. I sit in the darkness and speak my name. I call myself back. Name myself as though I am the mother. Hold my breath in the quiet of my arms. Cradle and...

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Ida It’s funny, choosing my own grandmother to be a saint. She was my nemesis as a child.  The person who stood between me and myself.  Who did her best to block any affirmation and acknowledgement coming my way. It is funny because just the writing of the above sentence caused an image to flash through me.  It was of my grandmother as a child herself. Second to the youngest.  Three older sisters, one older brother.  I know from...

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(by Kimberly Childs) I’m finding God in the dark places The old age home with its stench of feces A truck’s shadow concealing an oil-drenched rainbow Shiny supermarket fruit have no flavor Give me an orange persimmon bruised brown The avocado’s rough rind reveals creamy green Things are not what they seem Disaster is a gift wrapped in grief Loss is an addition of great value Look at the one who weeps And see their...

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Raise Me Up, Lord. I have strong feelings about sidewalks. Having grown up in the country—so country that most of the road I lived on wasn’t paved—in that setting I have no problem with taking a walk with the dogs down the middle of the road.  Or on a leaf-strewn path through the woods. But get me to a place where there are more cars than trees and I get more demanding about what my feet land on when I am outside and getting...

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Turning Inside Out We have an insides.  And we have an outsides.  And, in the usual manner of things, the outsides are what is valued.   The look.  The sound.  The actions. Yes, we manage to say, from time to time, that someone is beautiful on the inside.  But does that comment ever have any real impact on anyone? But we are in ordinary time and ordinary life when we care about our appearance.  Our behavior.  Our life. When we step...

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The Body And The Blood When I sat still for a few minutes and wondered where was my favorite place to pray, at first I felt a bit defeated.  I have prayed in all sorts of places.  Fields.  Bus stations. Chapels.  Cathedrals.  Church after church after church.  Walking down the street.  The big stuffed chair in my room. How could I choose a favorite place? But after a few minutes of prayer, ironically enough, I saw before me the small...

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Peering Through As a mystic I feel as though I spend much of my time in the dark.  It is a place that shares more with worlds that exist in cartoons than with what we experience in our world every day.  There is a lot of slipping and sliding around. Silence is crucial.  Knowing how to detect something around you so that you can become still is necessary for survival. In spite of the increased challenge in finding my way around,...

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Intimacy There is a meal that offers us a sacred intimacy with God. And with our neighbors. And with those we have never even met before. How amazing it is that during this season of Lent, we are free to feast with God any time that we wish. We do not have to measure our participation in the meal. We do not have to question what is being served. We are free to accept all that the altar-table offers us. It is a meal with Jesus. And a...

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The Echo Of Hate There is something that is left after you have forgiven someone.  And what is left feels like ashes. Soft flakes of what you can pick up after all that emotion has been burnt away. Forgiveness can be very efficient at deleting from your mind and heart and soul that shackle that kept you folding over in pain at the memory of the event. Forgiveness can be the key.  But what is left over when you are free has its own...

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly The Good The Good thing about quiet is the beautiful music that is there.  The swirling tones that enfold you. The Good thing about quiet is how I can hear better what you are thinking and feeling when you aren’t speaking to me.  The quiet has its own voice.  Its own knowledge. Its own approach to life.  It can go inside you to places that you aren’t even aware exist.  The Good thing about...

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(by Henri J. Nouwen) Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply. You might be afraid of the pain that deep love can cause. When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever more fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the ground to allow the seed to take root and grow into a strong plant....

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(by A. F. Learmont) OSL stands for The Order of Saint Luke. When healing is mentioned, the first thought is usually the physical state of the body, a particular ailment or affliction; thus concentration of thought is purely on the physical. Man, however, is not wholly a physical being. Basically, he is a spiritual being. He has been created in the likeness and image of God, and God is a Spirit. God formed man out of a living soul....

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(by Joe Simmons, SJ) This past weekend witnessed the canonization of seven new saints in Rome.  For holy men or women to be recognized as capital-S Saints in the Roman Catholic Church, typically two miracles need to be attributed to their intercession.  Usually these come when someone is healed without an easy medical explanation. Call me the modern skeptic, but I always found this litmus test to be… well… troubling, I guess.  In my...

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Round Tones It’s almost onomatopoeia: sounding like its meaning. Like the word, buzz. OW— on the way to an OU-ch. It always strikes me when words contradict themselves. Take the word, rock: As a noun it means something that is absolutely stationary. As a verb it means to be in movement. Radical movement. Movement with sharp edges. So, back to groaning. That can be agony. Or joy. Or so I’m told. It’s fun to see what...

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(by Scott Cairns) More than a hundred years ago, a chronically afflicted Emily Dickinson observed something of pain’s curious effects and aftermath.  “After great pain,” she wrote, ” a formal feeling comes.”  Her poem continues: The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs— The still Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’ And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’? The Feet, mechanical, go...

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Facing This begins with Jesus. He comes upon a man born deaf. And he separates him from the other people. Jesus takes the man where they can be alone. So he can spit, and dawdle, and chant incantations. Whatever he feels impelled to do that day. Whatever it was, he wanted to do it alone. For me, there’s alone— and there’s alone. Being alone physically gives me the actual space to bump around, bump up against, climb...

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Connection It is the smoothing out of the path that lies before me. It is the complete rearrangement of my structure. It is my being set free. It is my complete capture. It is fullness. It is fulfillment. It is the heart of quietness, and the hand of eternity. It is the movement of life itself; the opening of what seemed to be the end. It is the beginning that occurs every second. It is wonderment and amazement; a child’s first...

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Echoes When I think of restoration, I think of destruction. First, something doesn’t need to be restored if it hadn’t been wrecked in the first place. But second, once something is restored, it can be wrecked all over again. Like a child’s building made of blocks. Up it goes. Down it comes. So what is the point of restoration, then? To a child, making infinite buildings after infinite demolitions is the fun of...

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Transformation So, at first it’s easy. Growth. Green. Life. Creation. All sorts of good things. But what happens when something you don’t want comes up in the middle of your garden? Weeds, say. Weeds come from seeds, too, you know. But forget weeds for now.  They are, after all, minor annoyances that you are meant to pull up and destroy. What about a plant that you thought would be good—a plant you committed to taking care...

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Fullness It strikes me as impossible to write about emptiness. I realize that the prompt I am using here was geared toward photographers.  But, even there, it is impossible to photograph emptiness. Isn’t it? Emptiness—the absence of somethingness. And no matter what space you write about, or draw about, or photograph, there is something always there. God is never absent. There is no such thing as emptiness, unless you are...

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(by Patricia Treece) Sixteen-month-old Elizabeth Fanning lies listlessly in her mother’s arms.  Anxiously, drawn-faced Mrs. Fanning coaxes her child to take even a spoonful of the liver soup recommended by doctors.  But although Elizabeth’s swollen belly and twiglike limbs make her look like a starvation victim, the lethargic baby has no interest in food of any kind.  Little Betsy, as her parents call her, has a fatal...

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Light and Dark Perhaps healing is the opposite of brokenness—or breaking, really. Breaking apart—putting the pieces back together is healing, isn’t it? Gluing the pieces back into its whole state.  Or the perceived whole state, anyway. I think we get lost in our understanding of healing when we force our idea of the outcome onto the process. Take a serious illness, for example.  We only see healing as a complete restoration of...

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