Conversations with my Beloved

 

Art by Ilse Kleyn

 

“Where are you, my God?”
I seek you all about me and you are not there and yet you seem to tell me: Here I am. Everywhere. Nowhere.

I never leave you, but you have to realize I use disguises. If you persist in seeking me under that disguise I used a month, a year, ago, you will be hurt and disappointed.
I change, and you must change with me, or be left alone, bereft, bewildered, lost.

“But why do you do it?” That you may know me better. You are my Chosen one who must discover me beneath a multitude of impermanent changes of attire and behavior.
I remain myself, absolute, infinity…and close as a lover’s kiss.

You have to learn to recognize me. It’s hard, I know.
You come running to me…arms outstretched to be enfolded by what I was to you when the season was different, and you were ardent and your heart bursting with untried love, your every gesture and word a lyric, your very speech a poem!
It was beautiful, but it was only the prelude. Now the flowers have seeded, the petals are all gone, the scent is blown away on the wind. And yet…

and yet, how beautiful this autumn is!
The prelude to our consummation by my death in you, and your resplendent life in me.

~ Selected Writings of Barbara Dent, OCDS 

 

 

 

Thankful & Grateful

“Now I occupy my soul and all my energy in His service; I no longer tend the herd, nor have I any other work now that my every act is love.” ~ Saint John of the Cross

He Shall Hear My Voice, art by Michael Dudash

A prayer of gratitude will always influence our perceptions outside prayer. Once we are in the habit of thanking God for all that is happening in our life, including the harder challenges, a new realization awakens. The providential nature of events begins to show itself more. We “see” the hand of God more at work or at least trust implicitly that his reasons will show themselves in time. The actual presence of a divine request in a day’s circumstances becomes more available to our attention. The sense of spiritual opportunity increases, the sense that God is giving us a chance to prove our love in still another way. All these effects are due to a conscious effort to express gratitude to God for all he is doing.

~ A Reflection by Father Donald Hagerty

The Wings of God

The Flight of the Soul, art by Orit Martin

The wings that stretched the heavens like clouds
I climbed upon. And long and ardently they bore me in their easeful flight.
They were strong.
Fireless they were…I was a puny burden, no more than dust.
The long, smooth surge I rested on became my final trust.

The heavens’ span and all the wide, thronged space of universes
is to these wings an habitable room, a stretching place for leisurely tours
and comfortable journeyings.
What, now that I have cast myself upon their strength, have I to fear?
And yet my heart is humbled into awe to be so near. 

~ By Barbara Dent, OCDS 

 

Mary, the eternal spring of hope

Art by Maria Ellenrieder (1824)

Desperately we seek happiness. The majority of us understand that happiness is found in love. But today the way we use the word “love” often misses its very essence. As humanity is losing its sense of its own identity, it is losing its understanding of love as well, and the pursuit of what many think of as love doesn’t bring the fulfilment that they expect. Perhaps it is because love has been equated with lust, with encounters that barely touch the hearts of those who casually have met and as casually parted.

Yes, we seek happiness and dimly know that love is happiness, but we have lost the true meaning of love. We are going around seeking it or seeking someone who can tell us where it is to be found.

One person who can direct us to love is Mary, the Mother of God. She became pregnant with the Son of God, the Incarnation of Love and gave him birth! She bore him, brought him up, watched him grow to manhood. She lived with him, followed him at a distance, and stood under his cross as he made his supreme sacrifice out of love for the whole human race.

Mary knows the way of Love intimately, deeply, and profoundly. Of all the people who have ever lived, Mary is the one through whom Love was born.
To go to Mary, as you would got to a beloved neighbor’s house, to sit down in her kitchen, and to ask her to tell you about Love and the way to it, is the simplest thing in the world! For to a Christian with faith in the communion of saints, relationships span time and extend into eternity.
Those who have died are with us, and we are with them, united in the immense bond of Love that is the Lord. And so talking to Mary should be very simple. Many have found the way easily. More should try.

She will tell you about her Son who took upon himself your pain and my pain, your sin and mine. She will tell you about the deep, strange, fantastic obedience he had to his Father, and we will know what obedience truly is, and how to pave the way to Love. She will explain that to be fulfilled and find our identity, we have to drop the pronoun “I” and live by a total attention, by constant listening to him, to her…to the other.

She will explain that no one should really do “their thing’ selfishly, but should open their heart and embrace “all good things” that the other does.

Lastly, she will speak in a low voice about her own fiat, her simple “yes” to God. And if we listen carefully to the gentle voice of the mother of Jesus, we will know what that “yes” means in our life. We will know what Love is and, having found it, we will never let it go. So let us turn to this woman who can truly liberate us.

Happy Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

 

~ By Catherine de Hueck Doherty, ‘Bogoroditza’

 

Notes on Contemplation

 

Art by Alfred Glendening Jr. (1861-1907)

“I am not asking you so much to gaze upon Christ during your prayer of contemplation as to become aware of the fact that he does not for a moment cease to gaze upon you.” ~ Saint Teresa of Avila

The spiritual hunger of the contemplative can be satisfied only by a full surrender of the soul to God. The longing of the contemplative soul finds its completion precisely in this deeper offering and surrender to God. The manner in which God draws this surrender in prayer is a mysterious aspect of each contemplative life. It has its unique variations in each life, but one essential fact is that a complete surrender of the soul is demanded by the nature of love.
The need to offer all to God becomes a dominant urge within the soul of the contemplative and, indeed, within prayer itself. God in turn seems to find circumstances in which the contemplative soul is faced with this need as the only manner in which it can live out its hunger for God.
The surrender that takes place in prayer is often simply a response to what God has shown as an exclusive option for a soul if it is to plunge ahead in its relations of absolute love for God. 

~ By Father Donald Haggerty, ‘The Contemplative Hunger’

 

A poem by a Carmelite nun

I made a garden for God.
No, do not misunderstand me
It was not on some lovely estate or even in a pretty suburb.
I made a garden for God
in the slum of my heart
a sunless space between grimy walls
the reek of cabbage water in the air
refuse strewn on the cracked asphalt….
the ground of my garden!
This was where I laboured

night and day
over the long years
in dismal smog and cold…..
there was nothing to show for my toil.
Like a child I could have pretended:
my slum transformed…..
an oasis of flowers and graceful trees
how pleasant to work in such a garden!I could have lost heart
and neglected my garden
to do something else for God.
But I was making a garden for God
not for myself
for his delight not mine
and so I worked on in the slum of my heart.Was he concerned with my garden?
Did he see my labour and tears?
I never saw him looking
never felt him there
Yet I knew (though it felt as if I did not know)
that he was there with me
waiting……He has come into his garden
Is it beautiful at last?
Are there flowers and perfumes?
I do not know
the garden is not mine but his……..
God asked only for my little space
to be prepared and given.
This is “garden” for him
and my joy is full.
 
~ From the book, ‘To believe in Jesus’ by Ruth Burrows, OCD
Darren Haley 'Spring Chickadees':

Art by Darren Haley ‘Spring Chickadees’