Being Truly Orthodox

First, a disclaimer: My brother Fred will not like this post. He will consider it churchy, pious and too preachy. I have no defense. Nor do I make any apology.

Regular readers know of my commitment to inter-faith dialogue and active curiosity about other faith traditions. Currently, my attention is focused on the Orthodox Church and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in particular. You will remember him as the one who officially invited Pope Francis to Jerusalem (though that quickly became overshadowed by geo-political issues). Bartholomew was invited by Francis to the prayer service with the Israeli and Palestinian presidents at the Vatican.

Any who are interested in Orthodoxy can do no better than to get a copy of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s 2008 book Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today. Although I am increasingly concerned about Amazon.com’s aggressive and unscrupulous attempts to dominate the market, I did get my copy for just a few bucks from an independent book seller through Amazon’s “used” book purchase option.

Among many topics I found insightful and consoling, Bartholomew’s comments about prayer rank near the top… “Learning to be silent is far more difficult and far more important than learning to recite prayers.” He describes silence as “not the absence of noise but the gift or skill to discern between quiet and stillness.” (I can see my brother’s eye’s rolling back in their sockets!)

Sorry, bro, but I’m intrigued when the Patriarch taps thousands of years of spiritual practice by emphasizing how we must learn to listen in silence, to silence, if we are to approach true wisdom. Such silence elicits a kind of listening by which we are fully engaged, actively attentive, alive and compassionate. That’s hard, demands practice and perhaps requires a lifetime!

Prayerful silence “shocks us out of numbness to the world and its needs.” Anything but autonomous navel-gazing, silence “sharpens our vision … by focusing on the heart of all that matters.” Silence enables us to notice, pay attention, and respond with truly human hearts.

We discover there is no libertarian autonomy in our world. The solidarity to which Christians are called is as counter-cultural as God’s Word has always been. Seeing through our social obsessions and beyond passive acceptance of cultural norms of what is fashionable or acceptable, we recognize God’s own imprint — all creation is intimately inter-connected and mutually interdependent.

If we would be truly “orthodox” in our faith, what is a Christian to do?

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My references are from pages 80-81 of Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: New York, Doubleday, 2008.

Fear of Flying

“COME TO THE EDGE.”
“No, we will fall.”
‘COME TO THE EDGE.”
“No, we will fall.”
They came to the edge.
He pushed them, and they flew.

Thus, early 20th century French poet Apollinaire cuts to the heart of the matter! We humans have an insane case of vertigo and cling to what is “safe”, clutching tight to social norms and standard expectations for our security. Life, more precisely living, isn’t like that!

I love riding my scooter — yes, it costs $3.74 to fill the tank. But what I really love is the rush of the air, the freedom of movement, openness to the elements, feeling one with the machine. I’m careful and have never ridden without a helmet and a florescent lime vest like the ones used by road crews.

I really tire of the litany of warnings the majority of folks repeatedly intone… Be careful! That’s dangerous! Watch out! Is that safe? You could get killed! Growing weary of their professions of concern, I am increasingly curious whether my self-appointed safety patrol is in fact secretly jealous, actually envious of something they would love to do but remain hamstrung with fear.

Apollinaire was on to something! Riding my scooter is as close to flying as I will ever get this side of being a pilot. Though even scootering doesn’t quite rank up there with sky-diving — only once from 15,000 feet about ten years ago. The one-minute 10,000 foot free-fall before opening the parachute was one of the greatest spiritual experiences of my life. And, yes, it scared the crap out of me!

The way we live our lives mirrors how we practice our religion — often clustering in self-selected enclaves of like-minded folks who share our answers to life’s important questions. This is perfectly okay and necessary. Just last Sunday the Gospel was “Come to me all who labor and are weary; I will give you rest.” The problem is getting too fixed in our ways — too settled in our own weariness, resting with own answers.

Take Peter for example — our “rock” of faith on which Jesus would build his church. Along with the other apostles Peter repeatedly asked, “What’s in it for me?” Despite the many reassurances of the hundred-fold, even a master-teacher like Jesus must exhibit super-human patience… and still does with the rest of us!

Apollinaire’s “COME TO THE EDGE” is a lot like Jesus prodding Peter to get out of the boat and walk on water (Mt 14:22-32). “Wudda ya, nuts!?!” Like the master teacher to whom I was tethered in my sky-dive, Jesus was right there to grab Peter when he experienced his latest bout of self-doubt.  Too often these doubts paralyze us in a nasty case of vertigo.

In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor observes that religion serves two functions in our lives. First, it provides a way for people to understand and find meaning and purpose.  That’s good! But like a self-appointed safety patrol who scorn scooters, too many of us play it safe and settle for the security they find.  Unwilling to inch closer to the edges of life, they never get to see horizons that provide unimagined vistas or the hundred-fold Jesus promised in this life. (Mk 10:30)

The crunch comes, as it did for Peter, when we come face to face with the second function of religion — real conversion, genuine transformation. We prefer that religion simply function like Guy Noir of Prairie Home Companion giving us answers to all life’s important questions.  But there’s more — the “losing your life” part.

We, like Peter, will fight to defend the Jesus we think we understand, even drawing swords to keep him from being taken from us.  All the while we cut our selves off from him.  We deny the very path of salvation Jesus came to show us by example, the very way that leads to life and is our truth: “Those who find their life will lose it and those who lose it will find it” (Mt 10:39 & 16:25).  When we see that Jesus really means it, we like Peter run for our lives!

BBT quotes Christian mystic, Ken Wilber in stating the obvious — this “transformation” talk doesn’t sell well. It didn’t in Jesus’ time and it doesn’t in ours! According to Wilber, “soul” for most Americans has come to mean little more than “the ego in drag.” Much of what passes for spirituality is really all about comforting the self, not losing it!  We so want the answers to life’s questions and solutions to its heartaches to come from somewhere or someone else.  Isn’t that God’s job, to keep us safe!?!?

“COME TO THE EDGE.” Get out of your boat! If you want to save your life lose it… Yes, we often need to be tethered or assured by an out-stretched arm. That’s what the church is for — not to enfeeble us but to set us free!  Thankfully we have a patient, though persistent, teacher who walks his talk.  In addition to the reassurance of a good teacher, we sometimes just need a big hard push!

We too will ultimately hear the words addressed to Peter as our own: “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are mature you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will put a belt around you and lead you were you do not want to go.” (John 21:18)

“COME TO THE EDGE.”

They came to the edge.
He pushed them, and they flew.
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Barbara Brown Taylor’s reference to Ken Wilbur may be found on pages 86-88 of Learning to Walk in the Dark. She is quoting One Taste: Daily Reflections on Integral Spirituality by Ken Wilbur. Boston: Shambhala, 2000.

 

 

 

Give It Up!

This morning I have spent so much time composing a post that I’ve decided to save it for the weekend.  It’s entitled “Fear of Flying.”  Today I will simply share one of my all-time favorite prayers which expresses the essence of what I have tried to express in what you will have a chance to read tomorrow.

This prayer poem is by Elizabeth Rooney and entitled, Oblation:

 

I hope each day 

To offer less to you,

Each day

By your great love to be

Diminished

Until at last I am

So decreased by your hand

And you, so grown in me,

That my whole offering

Is just an emptiness 

For You to fill

Or not

According to Your will.

Enough With Polite Pleasantries!

Most of us squirm when politics or religion come up in conversation. We are taught from a young age to be “polite”. We learn to stay with amicable and amenable pleasantries lest we be deemed rude or, worse, even crude. Any hint of conflicting opinion or suggestion of contentious topics is a sure way to get your name nixed from future invitation lists.

Such etiquette is all the more intensified by the average American’s simplistic interpretation of “Separation of Church and State.” Live and let live! Isn’t every thought or perspective equally valid? Who am I to judge?  Leave religion out of it!

“My, what lovely weather we’ve been having… Oh, what a cute outfit you are wearing… You look great, you must have gotten away this winter… You know what my silly dog Jeb did yesterday… Yes, I’d love to see photos of your grandkids!…  How ’bout them Cubs!…  Did you have a nice Fourth?”

We all know the schtick! And, yes, there are settings like wedding receptions and picnics in the park when keeping the tenor festive is the order of the day. There are also volatile situations, as when a lot of alcohol is being consumed, when it is prudent to steer clear of matters that could create an ugly scene.

But politics and religion touch on the stuff that really matters. My experience confirms that not talking about them over time leads to a pretty boring conversation.  It’s hard to sustain much of a relationship on trifles and trivialities.  Too much avoidance of hot-button topics and I don’t mind at all being scratched from that invitation list. Life’s just too short and too valuable to fritter it away!

So here is something to chomp on… Unemployment is at a remarkably low 4% in Minnesota. The Dow broke 17,000 this week and continues to set record highs. Wouldn’t you think politicians running for reelection would be touting the economic recovery? But they are not!

Though no longer under-water, home values remain flat for most of us. More people have found jobs, but most workers have not seen their wages rise or “real income” make much inroad into the cost of living. Candidates aren’t talking much about our robust economy because the average American hasn’t felt that much robustness.

“Polite” conversation and a cultural preoccupation with “self-reliance” precludes much honest self-disclosure. But more and more people are beginning to see the facts and speak the truth — fully 95 percent of the nation’s income growth since the recovery began in 2009 has gone to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. Corporate profit trumps the interests of workers who make these gains possible.

The promise of  the American dream plays out as a recurring nightmare for far too many Americans! The soaring Dow has yet to be reflected in the average American’s paycheck. “Recovery” only trickles down to most of us in our dreams.  As the Gipper said so well, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”

If you have read this far you are probably in a different sort of 1%! By now, 95% have probably hit the “close” icon, such is our preoccupation with polite pleasantries and propensity to ignore the facts.  But we Americans evade contentious topics and have learned — to our peril — to steer clear of politics. And never, never bring religion into the conversation!

Sorry, but Kneading Bread is about spirituality, a spirituality grounded in the incarnation of a God in time, flesh and community!

Faced with the harsh realities too many face in our increasingly global economy, what is a Christian to do?

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Source for data showing 95% of income growth going to the top 1% of Americans is from a September 2013 report by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez.  The ten page report is available [here].

Dare We Hope?

The biggest, boldest headline doesn’t always tell the most important story. That’s the case this week with Pope Francis’ much anticipated and highly publicized meeting with victims of clergy sex abuse. Though survivor advocate groups cited deficiencies and questioned the Church’s resolve, Francis gained generally high marks for personal empathy and promise to hold bishops accountable.

But as ordinary Catholics know and this blog has reiterated many times, the root cause of our sex abuse crisis is the culture of clericalism, hierarchical arrogance and preoccupation with protecting power in the Roman church. Though not as insidious as the sexual abuse of a child, recognition of the urgent need to reform the Vatican Curia is a subset of the same core malignancy.

A sliver of light shone through the long socked-in cloud cover yesterday.  It came in the form of a copyrighted [story] by Carol Glatz for the Catholic News Service — to their credit, this is an arm of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Though it seems not to have even registered on mainline media it portends the level of awareness that must be in place for any meaningful change.  It suggests a few in church leadership are beginning to “get it” and we may have reason for hope beyond what the Pope promised.

“To some it might seem less than prudent to think that the church would go out of its way to seek out even more victims and survivors,” opening up further possibilities for lawsuits, anguish and “trouble,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin told representatives from bishops’ conferences from around the world.

However, when Jesus tells pastors to leave behind their flock to seek out the one who is lost, that mandate “is itself unreasonable and imprudent but, like it or not, that is precisely what Jesus asks us to do.”

Helping perpetrators, victims, parishes, communities and people who are distanced from the church out of “disgust at what has happened to children” won’t happen with “slick public relations gestures or even from repeated words of apology,” Martin said.

“Healing cannot be delegated,” the Archbishop emphasized. It requires every church member be humble and Christ-like in lovingly embracing “wounded men and women, with all the brutality and unattractiveness of wounds.”

It will come when the church recognizes “how compromise and insensitivity and wrong decisions have damaged the witness of the church,” he said, and when its members have their own personal healing, becoming more humble and journeying close to those who are lost and hurting.

“We are not there to tell the survivors what they have to do, but together to find new ways of interacting with respect and care,” and not hoping the problems go away, but seeking them out for reconciliation, he said.

Archbishop Martin was one of a number of speakers at an annual meeting of Conference on the Safeguarding of Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults. The 2014 conference is being held this week in Rome.

In his address, the Archbishop said, “The greatest harm that we could do to the progress that has been made right across the church is to slip back into a false assurance that the crisis is a thing of the past.”

“What has happened has wounded the entire church,” he said, and “the entire church is called to put right what has happened.”

“We are not that kind of church yet: and by far,” he said.

With this awareness finally being expressed by church leadership there might finally be a toe-hold for hope in this tragic saga of clergy sexual abuse and a few cracks showing in a perverse culture of clericalism.

It’s a refreshing story and a welcome week when the most significant report coming out of Rome originates from someone other than the Pope.
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I have no intention to violate copyright laws and respect the restriction posted on the CNS story that is my source: Copyright (c) 2014 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed. But with good news like this, how could I not share it? I enthusiastically refer you to the full copyrighted story with the link provided above.

Law-Giver Given Bum Rap!

We’d all at least scan a story carrying such a banner headline. But unlike some things you read on the Internet, this story is actually true!

Moses certainly does get a bum rap! Too many of us are stuck in the cosmic cinemagraphic effects of that righteous law-giver hoisting stone tablets overhead — all creation rumbles and every face turns askance when judged in the light of God’s “Thou Shalt Nots”!

I suppose this moralistic image fixed in childhood is perfectly understandable. As children our physical and emotional development takes time. Healthy maturation — personal, social and spiritual — depends heavily the security of clarity, rules and routine. Too often this is where we leave Moses — in a child’s collection of Bible Stories or Sunday school skits.

An image of God as cosmic meteorologist or grand regulator of minutia stunts mature faith development. It leaves us believing that the fans who pray the hardest will win the World Cup. It relegates God, whose self-revelation is Love itself, to one responsible for good weather on our wedding day. Sorry, but our well-being depends much more on sane gun regulation and the alcohol consumption of other drivers than it does on the policing of a law-enforcing deity.

Its time to grow-up! The God of Moses is indeed HOLY but perhaps not as we envision if we cling to the rules and images of Sunday School. The forty-year ordeal to which God subjected Moses and the Chosen People finally begins to make sense when we have ourselves wandered in search of life’s purpose for at least forty years!

Those who endure arrive at a place and time — and many of us need a great deal of remedial coursework — when what matters is not that we have broken God’s law. That’s now presumed.  Like the mature Moses, any who would climb the Mountain of The Lord encounter fearsome challenges and consistently ask whether is all worth it.  What really matters is whether we have broken faith with God!

After forty years of marriage one learns the relative unimportance of wedding day weather. The loss of one’s health, whether immediately life-threatening or not, puts the World Cup into perspective. Accompanying a loved one into Alzheimer’s rivals any Scriptural sojourn in the desert. Laws become no more than directional signals. What ultimately matters is “keeping faith” with God.

Scripture says Moses’ face shone when he descended Mt Sinai.  Are we not drawn to the incomparable wisdom of those who have scaled the cloudy heights and traversed life’s darkness? Taking refuge in the security of numbers, we may huddle below curious about the luminous faces of those who have persevered. We can hide for what seems like a lifetime, afraid of making the climb ourselves.

If we remain faithful to our sojourn there comes a time we will not be able to resist, avoid or postpone. “Life” will drag us — willingly or not — into Holy Mystery. In that place we will be invited to learn what Moses labored to pass on. We will be given, not the obligations of Law, but the embrace of Covenant.

We give Moses a bum rap if we persist in believing uninspired depictions of one wielding stone tablets. These are fine for the story books of childhood. More and more, life directs us to the truly inspired headlines that reveal how his face shone!

…enticing us to follow if we dare!

The Difference a Change of Filter Makes

Time for a little honesty! Time for true confession…

The investigation of our archbishop, John Neinstedt, for alleged same-sex dalliances leaves me so disillusioned and angry that I really had no desire to go to church yesterday. I’m really pissed off by his self-righteous arrogance and homophobic pomposity. It’s not as if his reputation didn’t precede him to the Twin Cities — just like a long festering boil, the infection is finally being lanced!

Out of force of habit or blind stubbornness I walked to the 9:30 Mass despite myself. It’s only a short distance from our house to Christ the King, hardly more than two blocks. Sunday of Fourth of July weekend is always one of the lowest attended services. Minnesotans are notorious for being “up North.” Still, parking spaces en route were quickly filling with family SUVs and elders arrived in a procession of vehicles giving front-door service.

Viewing this gathering congregation from the sidewalk just as it begins a gradual decent to the 51st Street entrance, something washed over me. My crankiness receded. My fixation relaxed. My heart softened. Screw the Archbishop! With the hard-won determination all survivors of abuse need to reclaim – and all Minneapolis-St Paul Catholics are surely victims of hierarchical abuse regardless of whatever John Neinstedt has done in his past life – who is he to hold power or retain control over our emotional lives or the full, free and mature practice of our faith!

Approaching the entrance along with familiar neighbors, well-scrubbed families and friendly congregants I physically felt an angry, cynical “filter” being lifted from my eyes and heart. Going to church felt like coming home – here is the church! If the Eucharist we come to share means anything, we are Christ’s real presence. This is the People of God I know, love, wish to serve and in which I hold my birthright!

We garden-variety Catholics have a long history of disregarding pious platitudes from remote hierarchs.  Tending a fussing child or paying the mortgage insulates us from  pontificating so heavenly minded it’s no earthly good. With my fixation filter lifted, I recognized that I was not going to church out of habit or obligation. I was going to church because of simple, sophisticated, mature, faithful folks whose faith is not their profession but the incarnational mess of our ordinary lives.

Every family, each person entering the doors of CTK on any given Sunday would balk at being called “exemplary” – but they are! Anyone who has been a parent has probably heard more confessions and ministered reconciliation more often than the typical pastor. Gathering here are those whose Baptism and Confirmation have become engrained — yes, becoming second nature, a matter of rote habit even.  If there is obligation, it is an obligation they have to themselves or one they pay their children.

It’s long past time for more than a little honesty in our church. We are in urgent need of changing the sieve that keeps secret the tragic truth poisoning our church family. Honest confessions are long overdue — and here in Minneapolis-St Paul we need more than just a change of filters!

The rank and file Catholic in the pews understands this far better than those for whom “church” has become a career and those blind guides who  presume they hold control by divine right.

How can we not gather to give thanks to a God who consistently seems to act and speak this truth!

A Story, a Sonnet, a Song

Our family’s deepest roots in America reach to May 7, 1842 with the arrival of Timothy Hannon at the Port of Boston. He was the son of Daniel and Mary Hannon born in Ballinadee, County Cork Ireland on August 10. Conflicting records indicate his year of birth as either 1818 or 1822.

Timothy married Julia Mahoney who had been born in Ireland in 1823. Their modest, unsung lives portend a quintessential American family story.

Timothy and Julia’s wedding was celebrated on February 18, 1849 at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in South Boston. They became American citizens on December 17, 1850 with the filing of Timothy’s naturalization papers.  The 1850 census states that neither Timothy nor Julia could read or write. Each would die of tuberculosis — he in 1860 and she in 1885.

Coincidentally, it was in 1885 that Hugh O’Brien was sworn in as Boston’s first Irish-born mayor. The city had long been controlled by native-born “Yankees”—most of whom had a stereotypical view of Irish immigrants as poor, ignorant, undisciplined, and under the thumb of the Catholic Church.

But the Irish-born population of Boston was exploding, growing from 2,000 in 1820 to 7,000 in 1830. By 1880, more than 70,000 Irish lived in Boston. The year Julia Mahoney Hannon died and Hugh O’Brien was elected mayor, the Irish were over 40% of the city’s population — the largest group of foreign-born residents and outnumbering the native-born Yankees.

The Statute of Liberty, iconic symbol of immigrant aspirations and America at our best, was dedicated in October, 1886. Even now, the sonnet by Emma Lazarus that graces the base of Lady Liberty expresses the sentiment of every family seeking a brighter future in America:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Finally, [here] is a link to the Cantus rendition of Oh God of All the Nations. Set to The Finlandia hymn by Jean Sibelius, the lyrics were written by American poet, Lloyd Stone. Sometime during this holiday weekend treat yourself to the two-minute You-Tube video link above.  It has become my favorite patriotic song and has been known to bring me to tears.

Happy Birthday, America!  May we be true to our story, our promise and our best selves.

“Fondly Do We Hope”

I remember well the first time I ever saw my Dad cry — I had been pestering him with my childish naiveté to tell me about life during the Great Depression. Even up to her death just shy of 98, Mom would euphemistically recall those first years of their marriage as “Those Dirty Thirties.”  Our nation has faced tough times before.

Our nation has serious issues to address today. Our political process sputters just above dysfunctional.  The verb “to govern” seems to have disappeared from our lexicon, leaving us with politicians rather than leaders. Yet, we should worry about our rabidly anti-government rhetoric poisoning — perhaps precluding — the formation of a needed and healthy patriotism among our children.

How do we purge the nastiness that has taken hold of our national character? We retreat to isolated enclaves in defense of the solitary rights of private citizens, forsaking the solidarity of common citizenship. Like spoiled children we obsess about individual rights rather than accepting personal responsibility for self and others. With narcissism cloaked in the rhetoric of Ayn Rand we facilely assert “freedom from…” leaving “freedom for…” holed up in the National Archives.

Yes, our nation has faced tough times before. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated hardly more than a month after delivering his Second Inaugural Address. Perhaps his concluding words are as fitting for us on this Fourth of July as they were when he first spoke them to a war-weary nation:

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Gift Given

All is gift; all is given!

In my more naive youth we feigned appreciation as we teased the Jesuit elder with whom this phrase became synonymous.  Only now am I beginning to glean his profound wisdom. Now the chronological age of the one we would taunt, I yearn for a spirituality with a sharper edge, a keener sense of purpose.

The paradox is that so much of the spirituality we inherited from our elders — or what we thought they were passing on — just isn’t cutting it. We forage amid the fragments for something that asks more of us than to sit and listen quietly to someone else telling us how to live.

Yet… it’s all there! …its all gift! …it’s already been given! That’s the paradox of our faith.

Those who read here regularly will recognize the echo of Barbara Brown Taylor. Learning to Walk in the Dark continues to inspire and console me these days. Her profound knowledge ascends to the wisdom of that Jesuit elder from my early formation. Her deep love — perhaps, reverence — for the long tradition of forebears frees her from slipping into idolatry.

BBT presents Moses as one of contemporary significance and offers Gregory of Nyssa as someone relevant today.  In tapping the very sources of Judeo-Christian faith, she masterfully weaves these origins with the mature wisdom of a fourth century Cappadocian monk.  She brilliantly retrieves them for those of us searching for a sharper, keener edge that cuts to the depths of our spiritual yearning.

Apparently, Gregory was the first in the tradition to recognize the Great Lawgiver as the exemplar whose maturation over time came to enflesh that which he was transmitting.  In this Moses’ teaching transcends any literal application of the Law.

Moses’ vision began with light, progressed through clouds and culminated by recognizing God in darkness.  Gregory counsels those who wish to draw close to God to take Moses as our mentor and exemplar.  Don’t be surprised or even disturbed when our vision turns cloudy. Our impulse to take charge will be fearsome. Like our forebears we will be inclined to construct idols.  Our eyes will demand to see.  Our intellect will fight to contain and categorize. Yet, All is gift!

If we resist our impulse to settle-in, settle-down and settle-for-less — if we open ourselves to the gift inviting us to persevere — our wise forebears in faith assure us that all our deepest yearnings will be satiated in the Holy One’s luminous darkness.

Transcending promise, ALL becomes gift given!

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See p 48 of Learning to Walk in the Dark for BBT’s reference to Moses and Gregory of Nyssa.