Communities are a sign that it is possible to live on a human scale, even in the present world. They are a sign that we do not have to be slaves to work, to inhuman economies, or to the stimulations of artificial leisure. A community is essentially a place where we learn to live at the pace of humanity and nature.

-Jean Vanier

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In Tension (from Thoroughly Alive)

But frail as I am, the grace of God rises like the slow swell of morning in my darkness. His love is present, pure and untainted by need, and it runs through the veins of my fallen self in a remaking stream. His love does purify my love, his grace heals my need so that I can offer something of myself without demanding something in return. God grows slowly in me, a fullness of Love and slowly, I am remade. But it’s all in progress, half done, just begun, and not yet finished.

We yearn for absolutes, I think. We want the black and white assurance that if I do this or believe that my motives will be absolutely pure and my actions will be right. But the black and white, the gem-cut answers of diamond clarity are rarely to be had in human life.

W live in the broken place, in an earth bruised and blackened with grief, yet still pulsing with the beauty that began it. Brightness is all about us, light and love, music and friendship, an air that fills the lungs of our souls with life even as our feet are mired in death. We breathe it, dying into life as our God draws us to himself. Grief is the music to which we are born, yet joy is the rhythm by which we walk our long way to all that God intends us to be.

the better story

Let’s resolve to tell ourselves the good story, the gospel story, often enough, vividly enough, truthfully enough, that it displaces all the lesser stories, and shapes who we really are. (Mark Buchanan)

Sometimes, I am startled out of myself,

by Barbara Crooker

like this morning, when the wild geese came squawking,
flapping their rusty hinges, and something about their trek
across the sky made me think about my life, the places
of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief
has strung me out to dry. And then the geese come calling,
the leader falling back when tired, another taking her place.
Hope is borne on wings. Look at the trees. They turn to gold
for a brief while, then lose it all each November.
Through the cold months, they stand, take the worst
weather has to offer. And still, they put out shy green leaves
come April, come May. The geese glide over the cornfields,
land on the pond with its sedges and reeds.
You do not have to be wise. Even a goose knows how to find
shelter, where the corn still lies in the stubble and dried stalks.
All we do is pass through here, the best way we can.
They stitch up the sky, and it is whole again.

You will arise…

and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to have mercy upon her;
indeed, the appointed time has come.

For your servants love her very rubble,
and are moved to pity even for her dust.
(Psalm 102)

Religious, not spiritual

We English-speakers paste the term “religion” over any situation that strikes us as legalistic, hidebound, judgmental.

The church must find a way to stand united with its spiritual fathers, as surely as it must find a way to speak to the world that does not condone the world’s own failings.

“Religion” provides an important test case for this matter. In the fourth century, Augustine affirmed the Latin term religio by underscoring its etymology—re ligare, “to join again.” Religion, properly understood, brings wholeness. If any faith deserves the name “religion,” it is Christianity.

–Brendan Case

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Separated from Thee let me never be
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
Forever and ever