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Posts Tagged ‘oasis’


John 6:51-58: Body of Christ

Corpus Christi Sunday, June 18, 2017

I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life.

We have explored Trinity as oasis, Trinity as relationship, Trinity as diversity and creation. We have examined the importance of the three-legged triad and how it generates divine energy. Yesterday we reflected on how everything is holy – even our shortcomings and sins – when we bring them to the Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit. In return we find God’s gift of uncreated grace.

“You can’t manufacture [uncreated grace] by any right conduct. You can’y make God love you one ounce more than God already loves you right now. You can’t. You can go to church every day for the rest of your life. God isn’t going to love you any more than God loves you right now. You cannot make God love you any less, either – not an ounce less . . . We can’t diminish God’s love for us. What we can do, however; is learn how to believe it, receive it, trust it, allow it, and celebrate it, accepting Trinity’s whirling invitation to join in the cosmic dance”. (Rohr and Morrell 193)

Today we celebrate the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice of self for us. Christ’s return to and for us as the embodiment of God among us. As we move through our day, let us consider how we bring into expression God’s fierce fidelity, the Spirit’s passion and Christ’s gift of uncreated grace in the elaborate yet simple divine dance of transformation.

I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life.

To more fully understand the eternal dance of love, we might want to spend more time with Rohr’s and Morrell’s description of this dance in THE DIVINE DANCE: THE TRINITY AND YOUR TRANSFORMATION. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2016. Print.  

When we compare varying translation of these verses from THE MESSAGE, we open ourselves to uncreated grace, to the divine energy of  transformation.

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Acts 2:42-47: Community II – Words and Gestures

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Over a year ago, we looked at this citation during Advent and at that time we remembered that our own actions in community represent our relationship with God.  I always try to remember that my actions incarnate my belief in God.  My words and gestures toward my fellow humans are my expression, my composition, my painting, my metaphor of God. 

God wishes to live in community with us.  God desires intimate union with us.  God wishes to give us the goodness our hearts desire.  Today’s citation describes people living in the way God wishes for us, living as we all might in the here and now and as we all will in the next life: in true community, providing a shelter from life’s storms, coming together in a common belief, sharing goods, worshiping God, healing one another, bringing other believers into the fold through the telling of the good news of redemption.

If this is so . . . then we might look around us at the oasis we create with our own living.  Do we provide shelter to others?  Do we bring comfort where we can?  Do we share what we have?  Do we worship God together?  Do we heal one another’s wounds?  Do we tell the good news of our rescue to others?

Do we bring the hope of Christ to the world?  Do we live our faith in the Father?  Do we provide a sheltering place where the Holy Spirit might rest with us to heal our broken-hearted and our wounded?

Oasis in Libya

What sort of oasis do we prepare together?  Do we put aside all that divides?  Do we ask forgiveness where needed?  Do we forgive fully?  Do we remain in Christ in all of our actions?  Do we love justly?  Do we hope outrageously?  Do we unclog the stagnant spring in the heart of the oasis to allow the fresh, new Easter water to flow?

Where do we pitch our tents this Easter season?  Do we choose to remain in the stale backwater of old haunts and addictive habits, or do we allow ourselves to be transformed by Christ’s redemptive suffering in order to bring a newness to our own community . . . our own oasis?

And once we experience this gift of Easter life, what do we do with it?  Do we open our heart’s doors to the others whom God sends our way?

And every day the Lord added to our number those who were being saved.  Amen.

Tomorrow, the Trinity as oasis.

Adapted from a reflection on written on April 9, 2009.

 

 

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Acts 2:42-47Community I – Bearing Fruit

Friday, June 9, 2017

Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer: Pentecost

In these days between Pentecost and Trinity Sundays we reflect on the gift of community as oasis. 

This description of the early church when the followers of Christ were still part of the Jewish community and all its tradition is one we might apply to portions of our own lives.  These are little oasis moments we experience on the harsh journey through life.  We need to stop awhile in these times to give thanks in recognition of both the gifts we have received . . . and the gifts we are to the world.

If we spend time meditating on these verses, we might experience a vision of how our own life might be if lived to the fullest.  We ask: What are the gifts we bring to our community?  Do we find our reward for bearing fruit in God’s name and for being gift in return?

As we read these verses, we explore our community of family, friends, neighbors and colleagues and we consider . . . who and what form our community? Whom and what do we include? Whom and what do we exclude?

And every day the Lord added to our number those who were being saved.  Amen.

Tomorrow, words and gestures. 

Adapted from a reflection written on April 9, 2009.

 

 

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part Iwasted food

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Today’s verses for reflection are the famous “Dry Bones” of Ezekiel, the metaphor which describes the reunion of our own body and soul at our own resurrection.  This book is a panoply of images, for this prophet speaks in a variety of metaphors which, when examined, bring the understanding that the oasis mirages of the desert are possible.  Restoration after great tragedy can happen – not because of our own good works, but because of God’s infinite and ever-abiding compassion.

Several summers ago I had the gift of living in the Arizona desert for a week to witness the quiet but sudden blooming which happens after a rain.  Tiny delicate yet sturdy flowers pop up overnight after a scattering of dew . . . and then disappear again with the heavy noon sun.  The constant cycle of arrival and departure is fascinating.

So, too, are Ezekiel’s bones which clamber together to form full figures.  This dramatic imagery came to the Jewish people when they were well into their exile, well into the desert, without much hope or recourse to salvation . . . or so they thought.  When the prophet is asked if he thinks it possible that the desiccated bones might rise to take on flesh and function again, he wisely replies that only God can answer that question.  What follows is an interesting interplay in which Ezekiel is invited to take a part in this resurrection . . . which does occur quite dramatically. What was thought as lost has been found . . . and restored.  The people who had no temple, no visible home for Yahweh, had never been abandoned by their God as they had thought.  The dry bones rise, take on flesh, and live.

Take the time today to investigate the mission statement of wastED, “a community of chefs, farmers, fishermen, distributors, processors, producers, designers and retailers, working together to reconceive “waste” that occurs at every link in the food chain” at: http://wastedny.com/

Click on the image above for more of Chef Barber’s vision or visit: http://www.karenandandrew.com/2015/03/chef-dan-barbers-vision-to-slash-food-waste-transforms-blue-hill-into-wasted-through-march-31st/ 

And as you consider resurrection from desolation, you may want to read about chef Dan Barber who pulls together exquisite meals from food that would otherwise be thrown away. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/waste-not-want-not-eat-up

Tomorrow, oracles and more possibilities . . . 

Adapted from a reflection written on February 1, 2008.

 

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

oasisEzekiel 37

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part III

The second half of the “Dry Bones” chapter brings us the Oracle of the Two Sticks through which we understand that the splintered kingdoms will be re-united – an event thought totally unbelievable – and that the exile the people suffered was not God’s rejection of them. The chapters following this one describe the battle against Gog and the end-of-time feast in the restored Jerusalem. Thus does this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy tell the reader that what is thought impossible is possible for God; it tells us that God never abandons us even when we abandon God.  And it tells us that God loves us even when we believe ourselves to be rejected.

What does all of this mean for us?  Ezekiel reminds us that the most hopeless cases have hope in them somewhere, that God acts out of great love to resuscitate what has been lost, and that we are called to do for one another what God does for each of  us.  All things are possible, mirages become real, and sustenance revives us in the desert of our lives when we move toward conversion rather than away from it, when we move through the brittleness of the dry bones and the desert, toward the refreshing, renewing waters of the oasis God provides for us against all human odds.

There is a line in day eight of a St. Jude novena I used to pray:  When the difficult was too great to bear, Saint Jude somehow managed to see that it was lifted.  It was almost as if he had set the pattern for one of the branches of the armed services: “The difficult I shall take care of immediately; the impossible (in terms of human power) may take a little longer”.  Faith found that humility means power in the eyes of God.

ww_pada01[1]

Parry Dalea: This flower blooms in the Tucson desert in Southwestern USA from August to May

And so we humbly turn to God and ask that dry bones be resuscitated, that lost faith be restored, and that stifled hope be returned.  When we stagger under burdens and find ourselves in trackless sands, we must petition God in the knowledge that the impossible is possible knowing that God will always answer, dry bones will always rise, the desert will always bloom and the oasis will always appear.

As we rise to step into a new morning, perhaps still worried with a burden we could not shake, as we tumble into our beds at night, perhaps still weary at the end of a dry day full of impossibility, we must remember to pray for the impossible . . . for God always finds a way.

From Psalm 63: O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.  My body pines for you, like a dry, weary, land without water . . . For your love is better than life, my lips speak your praise . . . On my bed I remember you . . . On you I muse through the night for you have been my help . . . My soul clings to you . . . your right hand holds me fast.  Amen.

Tomorrow, a prayer from the valley of dry bones.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 18, 2008.

To understand more about the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, why they represent hopes lost, and why it was thought impossible for them to unite, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_israel.htm and http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_judah.htm

For more images of beautiful desert and mountain oases in unexpected places, click on the image above or go to: http://scribol.com/featured/desert-oasis/2257/9

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Ezekiel 37

The Crescent Oasis: Gobi Desert, China

Along the old Silk Road
The Crescent Oasis: Gobi Desert, China

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part II

Lifeless bones clamber together to form full figures.  This dramatic imagery came to the Jewish people when they were well into their exile, well into the desert, without much hope or recourse to salvation . . . or so they thought.  When the prophet is asked if he thinks it possible that the desiccated bones might rise to take on flesh and function again, he wisely replies that only God can answer that question.  What follows is an interesting interplay in which Ezekiel is invited to take a part in a rebirth that occurs quite dramatically.  What was thought as lost is found and restored.  The people who had no temple, no visible home for Yahweh, had never been abandoned by their God as they had thought.  The dry bones rise, take on flesh, and live.

What might we do to rise when we believe there is no hope?  We call on God who makes all things possible.  What might we do when we have stumbled into an oasis we thought was merely a mirage?  We continue to follow Christ who carries our burden.  How might we validate our new life in the Spirit?  We give thanks to God for affirming and claiming our potential.

Ezekiel has much to teach us about the bone-strewn valleys where we see only mirages on the horizon,  When we place all hope in God we are not disappointed.  When we lean on faith in Christ we are always redeemed.  And when we are willing to move forward in the love of the Spirit, we are renewed, restored and rewarded.  Let us not shrink from dry bones or the desert wastes in our lives . . . for we may be missing a deep and eternal experience that only the desert oasis can provide.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 17, 2008.

To visit other desert oases, click on the image above or go to: http://cristinabarkerjones.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/9-most-beautiful-oases-in-the-world/

Tomorrow, the Oracle of Two Sticks.  

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ezekiel 37

The Liwa Desert

The Liwa Desert

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part I

Today’s verses for reflection describe the famous “Dry Bones” of Ezekiel, a metaphor for the reunion of our own body and soul at our resurrection.  Ezekiel brings us a panoply of images that help us to understand that the oasis mirages of the desert are possible.  Ezekiel tells us that restoration after great downfall can happen – not because of our own good works, but because of God’s infinite and ever-abiding compassion.

Oasis in the Liwa desert

Oasis in the Liwa desert

In the desert there is a quiet but sudden blooming that takes place after a rain.  Tiny, delicate yet sturdy flowers pop up over night after a scattering of dew but they disappear with the heavy noon sun.  The constant cycle of arrival and departure reflects our own comings and goings with God.  We receive the morning dew and rise hopeful. The heat of the day beats us down and we retreat in disappointment.  Yet, through God’s loving care we return to bloom again with the next morning’s new scattering of condensation.  The cold night has brought sustenance that we did not expect.

And so it is with us.  Each day we are offered the gift of God’s loving, patient care.  Each day, despite the dryness of our bones, we rise to respond.  Each day we sink in weariness and yet . . . even in the most vast of deserts God provides oases to sustain us.

Tomorrow, we consider our own dry bones . . . and our own restoration.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

120578004.0sKwzibJ[1]Psalm 32:6-7

Songs of Deliverance

Each of your servants prays to you in time of trouble; even if floods come rushing down, they will never reach him.  You are a hiding place for me, you guard me when in trouble, you surround me with songs of deliverance.

The dry wadis flood when sudden rains come upon the unsuspecting traveler.  The psalmist uses an apt metaphor for the troubles that spring on us when we are living ordinary lives in ordinary ways.  During these times God becomes a hiding place, a sanctuary, a refuge from sudden, overwhelming storms.  God guards and protects, encourages and saves.  God calls to us out of the storm, intoning the words of hymns of liberation.   What are these words that are meant to calm crushed spirits, to sooth distraught minds and bring weary bones to new life?

God says: I hear you when you pray to me out of the maelstrom that strikes you – as the storms of life always do – and I long to save you from all that threatens you. Call out to me as the flood waters rise.  Sing out my name when you feel that you are lost.  Ask me for help and I will make a way for you.  When I rebuke the rushing waters that threaten to pull you down into darkness, they will settle at once into a refreshing oasis where you can rest and renew yourself.  Do not fear the swirling waters of life, for I am with you always.  When you call, I will answer.

Jewish_National_Fund_trees_in_The_Negev[1]From Matthew 8:23-27: When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.  And they came to him and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!”  He said to them, “Why are you afraid, oh you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.  The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

When we are surprised by the sudden changes that spring on us, let us call on one whom even the winds and sea obey.  And let us listen for the songs of deliverance that overcome the storm.

Enter the word maelstrom or storm into the blog search bar and reflect on how God saves and liberates us when we ask for help.

For more images of the Hatta Wadi Floods, click on the image above, or go to: http://www.pbase.com/bigrig/image/120578004

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011 – Genesis 43 – The Second Journey

Bacchiacca: Joseph receives his brothers

Just when we think we have reached a plateau in our journey where we might walk along the flatland rather than clamber up and skitter down the mountain sides . . . we find that we have to go back to repeat a leg of our passage.  Just when we have begun to relax at the oasis where we have filled our water sacks and rested in the shade from the heat of the day . . . we are told that we must move on.  Just when we are beginning to become comfortable in the little fortress where we are hiding from our foes . . . we hear the voice that calls us to make a second journey. 

Today we find ourselves in the Joseph story at the point where the brothers have returned home to Jacob to tell him that they must go back to Egypt . . . and this time they must take the favored son Benjamin with them.  Just when Jacob thought his problem of famine had been resolved . . . he is told that he must relinquish the last person who brings him comfort.  Despite his age and the litany of difficulties he has undergone, Jacob must trust God and allow himself to suffer again.  The brothers who had sold Joseph into slavery know that they must make a return trip to Egypt.  Little do they know that well-hidden secrets are about to be revealed, questions will be asked and answered, truths will be spoken.  They plan to go to Egypt to purchase food for their families.  They do not plan to encounter the brother they have delivered to slavery and death.  They do not know they are about to make a further journey.  We do not hear from Benjamin, the young boy whose full brother wields power second only to Pharaoh, but we can imagine that he feels both anxiety and excitement.  Everyone in this story will suffer.  Everyone in this story will be rewarded beyond their wildest imaginings.

I am reading a book by Richard Rohr which a friend gave to me.  In FALLING UPWARD, Rohr posits that in life each of us is given the gift of a second or further journey. “[I]n my opinion, this first-half of life task is no more than finding the starting gate.  It is merely the warm-up act, not the full journey.  It is the raft but not the shore . . . There is much evidence on several levels that there are at least two major tasks to human life.  The first task is to build a strong ‘container’ or identity; the second is to find the contents that the container was meant to hold.  The first task we take for granted as the very purpose of life, which does not mean that we do it well.  The second task, I am told, is more encountered than sought; few arrive at it with much preplanning, purpose, or passion”.   (Rohr viii and xiii)

Rohr cites W. H. Auden:  We would rather be ruined than changed.  We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the present and let our illusions die.  (Rohr 65)  And on page 73 we find this from Matthew 16:25-26: Anyone who wants to save his life must lose it.  Anyone who loses her life will find it.  What gain is there if you win the whole world and lose your very self?  What can you offer in exchange for your one life?”

Jacob believed that his sons were going to Egypt to purchase food that would save the family.  He did not know that his lost son Joseph would be their savior.  Joseph’s brothers thought they were purchasing food to save their lives . . . they did not know that they would also redeem their souls. 

Just when we believe that we have convinced everyone of the reality of our illusions . . . we are given the opportunity to leave our comfort zone and enter the second half of our lives.  We are blessed with the gift of seeing clearly that we are created to love honestly and suffer well.  We are created to take the second journey of our lives . . . the journey that promises far more than suffering . . . the further journey that brings us more reward than we can ever imagine. 

Rohr, Richard. FALLING UPWARD: A SPIRITUALITY FOR THE TWO HALVES OF LIFE. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

 The painting above is housed at the UK National Gallery.  To see more detail, click on the image and follow the link.  A spy glass on the museum site will allow you to see detail by zeroing in.   You will also find a link to other scenes from the life of Joseph which may interest you. 

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