Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fear this

Time for true confessions. There is a reason you haven't heard from me in a bit; I am afraid.

I am afraid while at the same time blissfully at peace.

Is that possible?

Here's the fear:

What if being happy robs me of the ability to ponder and write about the wonder of Him?

My level of comfort and joy are high and my creative juices correspondingly low.

It could be troubling, if it weren't for His assurance. He keeps telling me that this is a season of experiencing rather than thinking. Of incarnate revelation rather than word.

He told me that the winds of change were blowing, and with typical hubris, I thought that meant something else entirely.

The winds continue to blow and I to be pushed along by them, trying to simply enjoy the ride and be faithful in response. I pray for you, beloved reader, that His spirit is gently carrying you as well.

Merry Christmas...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas came early...

It has been a rollercoaster of an advent... my mind is pretty thoroughly blown.

First was a prayer encounter with my daughter, followed by a definitive negative test for the disease we have been praying about. Second was a miraculous healing which has left me stunned and breathless. I'll write about the former in another post.

On Tuesday afternoon, my DiDi fell and broke bones in multiple places on either side of the left foot near the ankle. I helped schlep her around to urgent care, a local hospital for x-raying, and finally to an orthopedic specialist for casting etc. Given all the driving and waiting which took place from about 2:30 till about 9:30 that night, we had not been able to keep it iced or elevated at all, and the pain was excruciating. She was given some heavy duty pain killers, but I stayed the night so that she would not be alone and the pain remained terrible.

I went to check up on her Wednesday late afternoon and she was so overcome by pain that she could barely speak and was close to vomiting. The pain medication was not working.

I have never seen one I love struggle with this degree of pain before, and watching it was indescribable. The sense of helplessness was overwhelming. I did the little that I could, clucking around propping pillows and refreshing ice bags, bringing cups of water and trying to make DiDi laugh through the pain.

Yesterday was day three. I went to check on her to make sure she had ice for her ankle because the pain was so bad that she couldn't even answer the phone when I called. When I got there she was able to talk, but was ashen faced and grimaced by merely lifting her foot so that I could adjust the pillows beneath it. Replacing the ice packs was like torture.

As we talked, DiDi asked me how much faith I have, and told me that I needed to anoint her foot and pray because He had not yet removed or lessened the pain. I had been praying on and off since her fall for healing and for release from the tremendous pain, but of course agreed to pray for her then as well.

I heard a word about how I was to proceed with the prayer, and followed it. Diane flinched from even the very light touch of the anointing oil.

My primary focus was on reduction of the swelling so that the pain would be reduced, and so part of my prayer centered around asking that He disburse accumulated fluids and return blood to farther up in the leg. I prayed that the bones be healed, but my heart was hurting for her pain and that's where the bulk of my prayer centered.

I also asked that He build up my faith and heal my unbelief, that none of my failings would stand in the way of her healing.

After I closed in prayer, Diane asked that I get her a pair of socks. I assumed that her feet were merely cold, not thinking much more about it. When I handed them to her, she swung her legs off the bed to the floor, and began putting them on, on both feet. Then it hit me; she had not worn a sock on the broken foot since the accident occurred.

Remember: even lifting the foot off the pillow had been excruciating just a very short time before.

Once the sock was on, she asked for her boot/cast, and slipped that on as if it were nothing more than a slipper. (The last time she'd put it on was more like a torture device.) All of this was amazing enough, because a few minutes before the lightest of touches had caused her to grind her teeth in pain. But what was more amazing was that she then stood up, looked at me, and said let's go downstairs!

I can't put in words the shock and confusion I felt while watching this.

DiDi has been miraculously healed before, and so she had been waiting for -when- He would do it again for this injury.

I, on the other hand, have never witnessed a dramatic healing like that before, and stood there dumbfounded, stupidly trying to talk her out of it and telling her to lie back down and get the foot elevated! The joy in her face and the expression in her eyes stopped me though, and she realized that I didn't really get it. She patiently led me downstairs to the kitchen, periodically looking at my slack-jawed, dumbfounded expression and laughing.

I was stunned into speechlessness, (which is miraculous in itself.)

I couldn't believe it. This was the same women who lurched from the pain of using crutches to get next door to the bathroom an hour earlier.

It was stunning. I'm still stunned. I've never seen anything like it.

I know that our Lord works all things to the good for those of us who love Him, and I'm not sure of all the things that He had up His sleeve in allowing DiDi to fall the way that she did. But I do know that one of the reasons was so that He could use her to help build my faith. He demonstrated that He WILL unleash His healing power in remarkable ways if we step in and are obedient, which I already believed. The part that shocked me was that He would use ME as a vessel for such a dramatic work.

I've never seen anything like it. I am stunned.

I write this to encourage you all. When you pray for someone to be healed, your prayers may also have the secondary purpose of allowing Yeshua to give someone else this very very special gift.

Best Christmas present ever...

Peace be with you. Be encouraged that your prayers are powerful, powerful things.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Continued prayer...

Just got word that the latest screening test for my daughter was also positive. So we now have 2 positive and 1 negative.

Your continued prayer is very much appreciated.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

News flash

Latest news:

Vicar general canceled due to funeral, and have had prayer answered re. my daughter's diagnosis. Thank you for any prayers you were able to send up on our behalf!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How can I keep from singing?

I continue to be amazed and awed at the wonder of love as it has unfolded over the past few weeks. My deep, soul deep friendship with DiDi, Bella Dolce, is watering and nurturing me, and I am unfolding and stretching and reaching for the sunshine...

I didn't realize that I had been like a dormant seed, waiting for a lightning strike to set a blaze and release me into fruitfulness at her care.

I didn't know that I so needed the love of a woman. I always thought the healing would come through a man.

It is beautiful, and our joy is infectious. We are watching other women in our congregation begin to unfold as well, touching and hugging eachother more, laughing and seeking eachother out.

Yeshua is doing a mighty mighty work through this gift of friendship.

His mercy and caring and generosity are beyond comprehension, beyond all imagining.

How can I keep from singing?

Monday, December 7, 2009

My week in summary

So much happening, and so little time to capture it all...

A few highlights:

I was confirmed by our Bishop at yesterday's mass. The Holy Spirit was manifest; I pray for obedience to His will and attentiveness to His gifts. Now on to find out if there are any problems with validity if the Bishop calls you by the wrong name...

Last week my daughter was told that she screened positive for a serious disease. Still waiting for additional test results. Please pray that the previous test was a false positive, or was simply a sign of previous exposure.

On Thursday I meet with the Vicar General of our Roman Catholic diocese to discuss the problem of unorthodox teaching at the local seminary. So far my objections have been dismissed. Prayers appreciated for God's will to be done in this.

I am walking in joy and love, unplanned, unanticipated, undeserved, and indescribable.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shakespeare on love (16)

O, learn to read what silent love hath writ!
to hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.

Sonnet 23

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shakespeare on love (15)

Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs,
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes,
Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers' tears.
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
a choking gall and a preserving sweet.

Romeo and Juliet, I:I

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Shakespeare on love (14)

By heaven, I do love, and it hath taught me to rhyme and to be melancholy.

Love's Labour's Lost, IV:III

Monday, November 30, 2009

Freedom OF

I've been meaning to throw this out to you for a few weeks, and now seems the time given the connection to Thanksgiving.

I've been wondering when the shift occurred from freedom OF religion to freedom FROM religion. Does the frantic fringe have any recollection that the separation of church and state was instituted to protect religion and faith rather than the other way around? Do they see that the very tyranny the founding fathers sought to protect against is happening now, to Christians?

How dark the darkness...

Happy random set of circumstances day?

I am back from Thanksgiving festivities, and wondering about something.

Why do we still celebrate Thanksgiving in the US? Isn't it a violation of the separation of church and state? After all, thankfulness requires two parties; the person giving thanks and the person being thanked.

I don't understand, therefore, how this can remain a federal holiday, given the fanaticism of the freedom from religion crowd.

I wonder how many years of it we have left...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To adore and obey

I was not born to be free. I was born to adore and to obey.

-- C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A gift of sweetness

I woke again in the middle of the night, this time for a different sort of rescue.

I did something strange, in half wakefulness. I reached over, put my hand on my husband's head, and told him that I was going to give him some sweetness. I woke knowing that that was what I was supposed to do. It was not that I was to -be sweet to him-. I was to bestow a gift of sweetness within him.

I was to impart it.

Bestow it.

I was instructed to do it, and I did.

I fell back asleep quickly and forgot about it. But he came downstairs this morning smiling, and reminded me. He obviously liked it, and thought I was -being- sweet, which I was not, and I needed to explain it.

Astonishingly, he was not dismissive, though I did give him an out straight away, saying that I didn't expect him to believe it.

He asked how it was that I -knew-, and so I tried to explain the certainty that you feel when the Holy Spirit is directing you to action. In response, he said that he believed me, because the way I had said that I was giving him sweetness sounded exactly the way I described it. As gift. As a bestowing upon and within.

This has never happened to me before, in all the hundreds of times I've prayed for people. I told him that as well, and he was tickled.

He is in an open state.

Holy Spirit, come. Keep him in that place. Bestow on him many gifts. Shower him with your love.

Monday, November 23, 2009

No other fount I know

I have been thinking about blood, and in particular about menstrual blood.

One of yesterday's hymns was Nothing but the Blood of Jesus, and so of course, being me, I had to connect the two.

I thought about how Christ's baptism sanctified all the waters of the world, and wondered if his pierced side did the same for our blood, setting it apart and making it holy.

Women, in the cycle of life giving, pour out His blood in a perpetual flow of love and glory. A perpetual blood letting for the life of the world. A shedding of fecundity. A constant fount of blood and water, pierced like his side.

No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Flower lined

While reading a Psalm I realized that sometimes the pit you need to be rescued from is beautiful and lined with flowers.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Have I already said this?

Our experience of unfulfilled desire mimics the pain of God. Through it we understand the frustration He must feel at not being able to give to the beloved one. Through it we participate in His suffering.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The soul feels what the mind cannot

My staunchly secular and rigidly rational husband had another nightmare last night. I pulled him from it's clutches when his moans of fear woke me.

In the dream he encountered an evil woman, deeply evil, who had the ability to know the thoughts of others. He looked through a white book she had authored, filled with grotesque drawings in raised purple. He realized that he was the only one who could see what she was, and as he thought this, she began to repeat it and move toward him. He tried to escape, crying out "No, no, no!"

It was at this point that I woke him.

I often rescue him from darkness in the night.

I find it interesting that this secular man, so certain of the boundaries of the rational world, can realize the existence of evil only in sleep. There can be no denying of it then. He feels it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Male and female, He created them

I have been thinking about women, and the love of women in particular.

There is a feminine character to love, and a masculine. I can't speak much about the latter given that it would be mere observation. But I am getting a deeper understanding of the feminine.

It amazes me that God always wants to show us more. To take us deeper. Just when you think you understand, He takes your hand and leads you further. It is breathtaking.

When women love, they want to give fully. They want to give all. They want total consummation, total gift, total consumption. They give heedlessly, recklessly, without counting the cost.

Our God, in His wisdom, knew this, and made us to be complementary. Male and female He created them, because the swooning giving of two women would be too abandoned. Too unmeasured. We need a masculine reserve to achieve balance.

The feminine gifts soften the masculine reserve. The masculine strengths protect the feminine vulnerability.

He is so wise...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why settle?

Happiness. I've been thinking about the idea of happiness.

We strive for happiness, thinking it the summit. The ultimate accomplishment. The ultimate state of existence. The ultimate goal.

But happiness is flabby compared to joy.


In contrast, joy is blood-filled and pulsing.

But joy is always accompanied by at least a soupçon of pain; a whisper of loss or absence or some harder thing.

And so we content ourselves with mere happiness, to avoid it.

Turns out I don't particularly want to be happy.

Why settle?

To give and to receive

My BP has spoken of people who have a charism of love. In the past I have thought that this meant a capacity for giving love. And it does. But my beloved DiDi has shown me that it is much more. She has tremendous ability to give love, but also to receive it. She is all open arms and heart. I pray that I may also be both.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Be still?

God has been showing me how He provides realizations of Himself through other people.

This sounds so tame, when what I mean is so untame.

So wild. So excruciatingly joyful. So wonderfully heartbreaking.

He says to be still and know that I am God. Know that I am God.

Know me. Just as Adam knew Eve.

He sends us people so that we may know them and so come to know Him. Through mess and sweat and tears and blood. Through heart-pounding, pulse-racing, soul-wrenching love.

Through joy and grief, sometimes combined.

Through highs and lows and hurts and restorations.

Through passion, we know Him.

Lord, you are a mystery... It hurts to know you.

Please pray for time

Beloved reader,

It has been less than a week since I have written, yet it feels like an era has passed. Funny how time can twist and change shape based on what is unfolding.

There is so much that I am like a thimble trying to catch a torrent. I have no time to capture it, let alone process it and then form it the way He would have me.

Please pray for me. I hope to post a few drops soon. Pray for time.

Always yours,


Thursday, November 12, 2009


I was recently introduced to the Jewish idea of soulmate called bashert, at a theatre production of the rather bizarre "Clean House". After poking around on the web, I found the following description from an article on

"A Jerusalem rabbi once told me that when we're born, God whispers the name of our beshert -- our soulmate or destiny. The cleft above our lips, he said, is where God places a finger, to silence our ability to reveal the secret."

Rather lovely I think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sacred scaring of the hard nosed

I've been thinking about Dr. C's comment re. the difficulty of some to accept the mundane as sacred, and will be writing more on that soon. I think the problem is connected to their abandonment of sacramentality as a whole. (Apologies if that was obvious...)

Both sides now

My beloved DiDi is teaching me many things. I am in awe.

Today I realized that she somehow stands on both sides of the veil.

It is as if it runs through the center of her, so that one eye sees the things of this world, and the other eye simultaneously sees the things of the Other.

I am in awe.

So sing!

"The reason people no longer believe is because believers no longer sing!"

--Friedrich Nietzshe

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is not said

Some of my favorite parts of the scriptures are things that are not stated. For example, what happened between the Holy Spirit and Mary once Gabriel left. More recently, I've been thinking about Lazarus, and what it must have been like after he was returned to life.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reflections on a teapot

I've been talking to my BP about Thomas Howard's idea of everything meaning everything, as it relates to the reawakening of the Christian imagination. I thought it might be good to offer an example of the concept in an easily digestible form, and was given an image of a teapot. So here goes.

Let's say that you were shown an old metal teapot. The empirically minded would note that it is made of scuffed metal and has a wooden handle. They could see that it has been used and looks old. If they open it they can see the stain of yesteryear teas, and perhaps even catch it's scent if they dare dip their noses.

All of these things are real and true and give insight about the pot.

An expert on teapots could look at the workmanship and tell more about it. More facts could be collected.

But what happens when you see it, and know it to be your grandmother's?

When you look, you see the dent on the side and it's flame-darkened bottom. You picture it sitting where it always did, on the back of the old gas-burnered stove. You see the black stick-match holder mounted on the wall nearby, and smell a brief sulfurous blast when one is struck.

You remember the cabinet in which a box of Red Rose rests, and the drawer filled with the tiny Wade figurines you played with year after year.

You remember orange pekoe being offered as a treat, and wishing that you actually liked it.

You remember taking grandma's tea-and-dry-toast cure, and wanting just a touch of butter.

You remember the sound of her coming through the swinging door from the dining room, where Jesus' painted eyes followed her as she walked.

You remember how she poured for sorrows and joys, for calming and reviving, for waking up in the morning, and for restlessness at night.

You hear her voice telling the teapot story again; how she received it as a wedding gift some 30, then 40, then 50 years before.

You remember clearing out the house when she died, and having to throw the old pot away...

These memories add more than mere facts to the reality of a simple teapot. The associations and interactions and emotions provide context.

They give the object meaning.

The Enlightenment would have us strip things down to the essential facts, to isolated collections of details theoretically comprising a whole. None of which have meaning, only existence.

In the enlightened view, the teapot means teapot. There is nothing more. Just the facts.

In Thomas Howard's view, the teapot means love, and comfort, and contentment and safety. It means stick matches and squeaky doors. It means pillowy hugs and powdery old lady scents. The teapot means grandmother, and love.

Going beyond that, it means the technological evolution of man; the forging of metals and hewing of wood for our purposes. It means the alchemy of molecular change and the ritual of seed, seedling, sapling and tree. It means the interaction of man and nature and God.

What if we could see all the interconnections of things all around us? What if we could see them stretching out like spider webs dew-sparkling in the early sunshine? What if we could see the beauty and the wonder and the majesty behind the exterior of every single thing?

I can only imagine...

The why of things

I am one of the people who love the why of things.

--Catherine the Great

Sunday, November 8, 2009

So much more to discover

One of the most wonderful things about knowing God is that there's always so much more to know, so much more to discover. Just when we least expect it, He intrudes into our neat and tidy notions about who He is and how He works.

-- Joni Eareckson Tada

Saturday, November 7, 2009

False evidence

From the radio this morning:

Fear is false evidence appearing real.

Final notes from Chance or the Dance? Ch. 8

" is in the nature of union to produce fruit, or, conversely, that the fruit owes its life to a prior union. Further, he might observe that it is in the nature of that union to be ecstatic, and he might thus conclude that joy is somehow written into the sources of life. And he will undoubtedly see that there are pain and agony involved and will have to come to terms with what he can see only as an intrusion or an ambiguity--that pain is somehow bound up in the whole process of joy. ... And he will see at work over a long, long span of time the difficult notion that reward or fulfillment commonly follows rigor and renunciation and austerity... and is not available on demand."

"It will occur to him that one of the oddities of love (erotic, paternal, filial, social) is that its motion is outward and away from itself, and that it experiences this motion as joy"

" issues from death--that spring rises from winter, and the oak from the dead acorn, and dawn from the night, and Pheonix from the ashes.

These are old moral saws. Nothing new here. Bromides. But then there is nothing new anywhere. The business of the poet and prophet has always been to take the saws and astonish and delight us into a fresh awareness of what they mean by discovering them suddenly in this image, and in this, and this. And the rest of us may see it all either as a pointless jumble of phenomena, or as the diagram of glory--as grinding tediously toward entropy, or as dancing toward the Dance."

Friday, November 6, 2009

On depths and heights

From prayer time this morning; some thoughts for my friend who fights to be where He wills her.

When we give to Him all the achings of our heart, when we cling to obedience despite every inclination to do otherwise, when we pour out our sorrows and yearnings while laboriously struggling for the good, He brings out of it a soaring joy.

Your heart may burn from the pain, but your spirit will soar with His Spirit and witness sights that can only be seen from those great heights.

Lord, keep me there.

Keep me in the depths so that I may experience your heights.

On not opening it now

More from Chance or the Dance, Ch. 7:

"We are all familiar enough with the mystery that attends the private. ... sometimes the mystery suggested an ecstatic rather than a horrible revelation. The tall knight who appeared to us in the gusty wood and who lifted us to his saddle--where was he taking us? Not yet, little one; trust me. You shall see. There are many dangers ahead, but if you will be strong and brave and patient, you shall see. Wait. Or the beautiful and kindly lady with the shining face who beckoned us silently with a finger to her lips. She would not tell us her secret, but we knew it was worth waiting for. All these situations called to something in us that was intensely aware that secrecy, or privacy, is in the cards, and that it is a higher consciousness that bows to this and waits for the time and the permission, than that which shouts, 'Open it now! I want it now! I shall have it at once!'"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Jam tomorrow

I hunger for you
hunger for you

--Chantelle Franc

Forgive the confusion: recent posts reordered

Gentle Reader, I ask your forgiveness for any confusion about the reordering of recent posts on Chance or the Dance? I often schedule posts in advance, and discovered that I had numbered entries which posted out of order. I have therefore changed the post dates so that they appear correctly.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chance or the Dance? Excerpts from Ch. 7 (Sex) Part 3

"The view that is being put in this book, however, is that the rush into the fenced-off place is a desecration and not an emancipation. It proceeds upon the assumption first that the idea of the private, the set apart, is a legitimate one, and that on the one hand it is not only worthwhile but necessary that some things be set apart, and that on the other, there are some things whose very nature demands such a setting apart. Second it would suspect that the human imagination has not been mistaken in handling the sexual phenomenon as one of the things to be set apart in the exclusive place.

It would suspect this because it would see the body as the image of the person, and the person as a thing vast and mysterious and not to be raided. ...The human imagination has set the sexual rite into this veiled sanctum. It does not occur in the marketplace, or at the table, or in the drawing room. Not even the parody of it (whoredome) occurs there. One goes behind closed doors. But the closed wooden doors are themselves only the sign of the closed doors behind which the human imagination keeps the phenomenon. They are not the closed doors of embarrassment, or of shame, althogh some eras have acted as though they were. Rather, they are like the veil into the holy place: up to here you may all come, but I must go alone beyond here, in unto this personhood whose being is to be opened under this particular modality to me alone. (And of course the physical actualitites of the rite so exactly correspond to this awarenes of entry into the secret place byond the veil that they hardly need pointing out.)"

"...those who honor the shrine begin to participate in an exchange and a communion whose nature eludes those who traffic in holy things. ... But... those who honor the shrine move, by their very attendance on the rubric, toward some great and unimagined Unveiling when the ecstatic secret is opeoned to those who have learned that no churl will see the Holy Thing; to those who have learned that it is not by pushing into a thousand shrines that one becomes able to pass through that final Veil, but rather by brave and single attendance on the one shrine committed to one; who know that an unveiling is a real unveilling only to the extent that what is veiled is set apart from the other things around, and that one's appreciation of the reward is in some ratio to what one has experienced of patience in waiting for it; and to those who have recevied the ecstatic communion entrusted to them as an image of some final Communion when the knowledge of all beings will be ecstatic; who, by their participation in the rite (or by their wait for it--those who for one reason or another are denied the foretaste here) have apprehended the knowledge of other beings as a high and holy thing, not to be flung open at random."

Friend cleaving to friend

This from my beloved DiDi.

... in friendship are joined honor and charm, truth and joy, sweetness and goodwill, affection and action. And all these take their beginnings from Christ, advance through Christ and are perfected in Christ. ... And thus, friend cleaving to friend in the spirit of Christ, is made with Christ but one heart and one soul ...

--Aelred of Rievaulx

Chance or the Dance? Excerpts from Ch. 7 (Sex) Part 2

"Oddly, the rite of life, this most common and most mysterious thing, describable both by plumbing and mystic terms, appearing as both ridiculous and noble, slimy and sublime--this was not only the rite of life, but of knowledge. That is, the act which generated life was at the same time the act which signaled the high point of knowledge between two beings. It suggested that the nature of that knowledge between the one mode and the other was fruitful. The old term was 'know'. Adam knew his wife. "

"Then, finally, it finds its perfect form in the enactment by the two unveiled images, the images of male and female, of the energy that strains toward total union. That is, the thing that I want passionately to know, while I am aware that it appears only under this fleshly image and is itself more than that image, I can only know via the greatest possible experience of that image.

Here the distinction between spirit and matter disappears, as it does in the Sacraments. For here I experience the oddity that flesh is the mode under which I apprehend the truth of the thing. It is the epiphany of the thing. There is, in the sexual rite, a sense of struggle. It is the mad straining of the two images to get through to the very center of the thing (and this is not merely a pun; according to the view being put here, the anatomical placing of things would be itself a perfect image of what is at work in the situation, so that the fact that the final rite occurs at the 'center' of the bodies is to be expected.) There is, ironically, in this most soaring of all satisfactions a radical sense of incompleteness. The ecstasy accompanies the exploration, an exploration that never quite finds that ultimate elysium where the union is unimaginable to us, but toward which union we strain again and again, and which very attempt we find to be ecstatic."

"...the human body is available for any number of activities (sports, medical inspection, work), but when it is taken into the service of the sexual rite, a univrse of significance comes upon it, like God into the Mass, and immediately the participants are less than the thing in which they are participating, and it is theres to oserve the rubric with awe. The equipment is no longer merely object; it is image. Taken into the rite, it is transformed. As in poetry, courtesy, ceremony, or any of the ritual ways in which we shape our experience, so here the imposing of a form upon mere function paradoxically elicits the true significance of that function from the raw material. ... A doctor may probe it strictly as a complex of organs and tissue; a gymnastics coach may maniuplate it as a pattern of muscles. But the sexual exploration of this mass of tissue and muscle puts the bread and wine on the altar: the real presence of the person must now be reckoned with."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Mary Magdalane

I recently had a Facebook exchange with a former parishioner who is a 1970's-style feminist (I'm the new kind) about Mary Magdalene. Her position was that the Catholic church conspired to label Mary as prostitute. I'm not clear on the perceived motivation. The topic came up because I played Mary at a recent All Saints festival. Here is my response to her query of whether or not I had fallen for the lie:

The Mary I portrayed is one compiled from scattered gospel accounts. She was:

Sister of Martha and Lazarus. Delivered from seven demons. Forgiven sinful woman. The one who sat at His feet rather than wash dishes. The one who had the most intimate exchange with Jesus of any person in the accounts; being allowed to wash, kiss, and anoint His dusty feet. The one who watched His blood pour out, and the one to whom He first showed Himself after resurrection.

She holds a place of great honor within the church, and within my heart.

The Biblical accounts don't say that she is a prostitute, only that she was sinful. But the idea of prostitution does not raise red flags for me, given it's importance in explaining God's relationship with us. Throughout the Hebrew scriptures we are likened as unfaithful wives or worse; sometimes even as prostitutes (as in Hosea). Jewish and Christian history is the story of the Bridegroom and the tarnished bride to be who becomes spotless.

Mary Magdalene is the culmination of this pattern, distilled into a beautiful woman. She demonstrated the most love of anyone in the gospels, and that love came in part out of her past brokenness, her sinfulness.

I relate all to closely to this to find it objectionable. It is too beautiful.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chance or the Dance? Excerpts from Ch. 7 (Sex)

"The viewpoint that is being described in this book has nothing to do with Victorianism, if by that we mean a frightened or a reluctant view toward sexuality. Indeed, it would probably have to be located at the other end of the spectrum from that, in that it understands sexuality to be perhaps the supreme image in human experience of the way things are. It is at once an ebullient and an austere view."

"Anthropologists have never found the tribe to whom it makes no difference at all what man spends the night with what woman, and to whom the idea of my wives and his wives, or at least my concubines and his, has no content whatever; where sexuality exists on a par with breathing and defecating--one of the random functions of the human body, without the complicating ideas of intimacy and warrant with which the rest of humanity has set it about."

"The sense of humanity, in other words, has been that this blissful and procreative function is wildly charged with significance that reaches in all directions form the mere bed in which the two bodies happen to lie. We live in an epoch whose doctrine is that humanity may have been sadly mistaken and that the edge of the bed is as far as one can carry the significance. But this is a doctrine hardly borne out by the emotional experience of armies of outraged cuckolds and jilted lovers down through the centureis. In any case, we shall have to have scriptures weightier than Playboy to bring about the apocolyptic shift in sensibility that this idea asks. For it asks, in effect, that we scotch the whole corpus of poetry, myth, ritual, and drama by which the human imagination has, from the beginning of history, spoken of its apprehension of experience. I know of no serious work of the human imagination which proceeds upon the idea that there is nothing but dalliance in sexuality."

No explanation necessary

"When one is in the sphere of the beautiful, no explanations are needed"

--Constantin Brancusi

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Enthralled by ice and Mystery

From Climbing the Sphinx (included in The Best American Spiritual Writing, 2007):

"Forever in a state of becoming, ice is never static. Whether forming or melting, this fluid newness holds me enthralled. Ice is like lava or fire--the longer you look, the more you feel yourself on the cusp of revelation. To stare into this frozen skein of light and shadow is to rub up against Mystery itself."

--Fred Bahnson

Saturday, October 31, 2009

On hope for faithfulness

From The Head of Barley:

It's hard to know what to say about the marvels
Inside the soul. Even those of us who have broken
Many promises can still hope for faithfulness.

--Robert Bly

(and being reassured, I hope.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Message from a dirt tosser

I hope that you will all give yourself the gift of reading a recent post by Dr. Ken Craven on his blog, True West:

Underground Missive #2

He has a true gift of insight, language, and voice.

On endless 'progress' and unfettered freedom

I'm reading The Best American Spiritual Writing (2007), edited by Philip Zaleski, a collection of essays on many subjects from wide ranging periodicals.

The current essay is called "The Ends of Science" by Eric Cohen (originally appearing in First Things), and points out the empty darkness of the sciences which currently fight so hard to deny the existence of something More.

A few quotes for your consideration:

"On the isle of progress, the priest is replaced by the scientist, who conducts secret expriments to help his fellow citizens. This is the new charity."

"...the original sin of the scientific Enlightenment--still haunts modern science: Perpetual progress is not the same thing as perfection. Infinite progress also means infinite discontent, as man is left in a state of eternal becoming with no end. 'Indefinite perfectibility,' Condorcet's dream, is an irreconcilable contradiction."

"Like everyone else, the scientist must decide which ends to pursue, which gods to serve, which demon will 'hold the very fibers of his life.' And these are exactly the questions that the scientific method cannot answer. Divine salvation may be an illusion but so is believing that science can tell us how to live in the world it dissects and describes, and how to live well in a world where scientific power is so readily, so seductively, so dangerously at our disposal."

"Science is power without wisdom about the uses of power."

" can conduct the most ghastly experiments on animals (with godlike power) while also worrying as a guild about the effect of modern civiliation on the animals of the earth, seeing man as more beastly than the beasts he destroys, or at least worth no more than the animals he uses. It is why science can devote so much energy to curing disease while believing that death is nature's way of improving itself."

"Our faith in science eventually gives way to our need for faith. We choose the hope of perfection over endless progress and unfettered freedom but only after trying for as long as possible to have everything without contradiction."

Still reading... perhaps more to come on this topic.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Acedia and the love of nothing

The quote below came in a comment from a blogger I enjoy, Dr. Ken Craven. It's focus is on tolerance, but it reminds me of a world stripped of imagination.

"Acedia... sloth [the sixth deadly sin]. In the world it calls itself tolerance, but in hell it is called despair. ... It is the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive only because there is nothing it would die for."

--Dorothy Sayers

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sensory satisfaction

Still collecting notes from Chance or the Dance?

One snippet on pg 84 led me to wonder if, because meaning has been stripped away from us, perhaps sensory satisfaction now attempts to replace spiritual satisfaction.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Dance awaits, breathless with hope

From Chance or the Dance?

"The old myth would have seen all these phenomena as images--images of some paradox that lay at the heart of things: that freedom for a thing is that state in which it appears at its highest performance (its perfection, in other words), and that this is a state that lies on the farther side of rigor and austerity. And it would have seen all these images as suggesting not a moral servility for that unique creation man, but rather the brilliant display, under a thousand forms, of the Dance, which goes on aeon after aeon, and which waits all breathless with hope for the Man to recogize the pattern, see his place, assent to it, and join. He may or he may not; that is his option. But his freedom is the ecstatic experience of the joyous measure whose music rings from galaxy to galaxy."

Aristotle on Friendship

Heard Peter Kreeft quoting Aristotle the other day... Not sure if I have the quote right, but here goes:

Friends are one soul in two bodies.


Monday, October 26, 2009

C.S. Lewis on Praise (2)

Praise is the mode of love which always has some element of joy in it.

--C. S. Lewis

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Topography of you

Let me explore you.
I want to taste every scar
feel each texture against my lips
as you tell me their stories
one by one.

--Chantelle Franc

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heart's violin

I have been thinking about "speaking in tongues" and "prayer languages" (which, by the way, are not the same thing. But I'm not doing apologetics in this post).

I debated about whether to write about it here, given that it is one of those polemical topics which can scare readers or get me labeled as a charismaniac. But given the impact the topic is having on my thoughts and on my relationship with God, I guess I'll just take the leap and pray that you hop on for the ride.

I'll spare you the details of how it unfolded, other than to say that my darling DiDi's prayer brought it about. She released it. It came pouring out immediately after she prayed that I be used powerfully for healing. As I prayed for 5-6 people and situations who came up to my group with requests, I focused entirely on this newly unleashed voice. My team partner prayed with them conventionally, addressing the needs they raised. But as for me, sound poured out from my heart without stopping for processing into thoughts and words.

(By the way; it isn't a particularly pretty sound. It's full of weird non-American-English-sounds and mouth formations, along with some clicky Aftrican sounds and sibilants. Not a thing of beauty as one might hope. Nothing flowing and melodic.)

It was an astonishing prayer session. The Holy Spirit fell heavily as I received His body on my tongue, and by the time we were finished praying for everyone I felt spent as after a night of love. Not tired out, not weary or exhausted, but both filled and poured out.

It was lovely.

A few days later, I prayed for my dear friend while driving. Since I was by myself, there was no self consciousness and I didn't have to worry about volume.

And so I prayed this way, on and on, my heart soaring and aching the way it does when listening to a passionate violin concerto.

The prayer poured out as if it were music, unfettered and unformed by the word processing of my mind. My mouth became an instrument transmitting the vibrations of my heart.

My soul sang to God.

(More on this subject to come...)

Who grew first?

An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.

--A. W. Tozer

Perhaps this is one way in which God "grows"; our capacity for Him expands.

More on growing the Spirit

Thomas Howard says that is in the nature of union to produce fruit. Our procreative ability and process is an illustration of this aspect of our God.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Your patience requested

Beloved Reader,

Please be patient with me; I am very busy at present, and have had difficulty carving time for responding to comments. I hope to give them proper attention within the next day or two, because your comments are so rich.

Pax Christi,


Monday, October 19, 2009

Loan me a book

Loan me a book that I might write
a sonnet in the margins
in future years
when I am gone
read it
and remember me.

-- Suzanne DeWitt Hall

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The growth of the Father

I stole a few moments to think more about whether or not the Holy Spirit expands, and He jumped in to lead my thoughts.

In the post linked above, I thought about the love growing between my dearest of friends and I, and how the Spirit seems to be making Himself known more and more obviously to us through that friendship.

If the Spirit is (as Augustine claims) the love between the Father and the Son, can it also proceed from the love of us for God and for each other? Could He expand and increase through that love?

When conveying this question to my BP, he reminded me that the Spirit is also a person, and so I brought this into my pondering.

And it occured to me that persons grow.

Bodies grow, and Jesus has a body which grew (and is growing?). We are the body of Christ, and the body and it's members grow.

And love grows.

This all leads me to think that the Spirit Himself can and does grow, and one of the ways He does so is through our love of eachother and for the Father.

But then I wondered, if the Son and the Spirit both grow, does the Father as well?

This one was harder.

He must grow, because the Trinity is one nature. If one grows, all must grow.

And yet He is unchangeing. Immutable.

It is relatively easy to contemplate the Son's growth. And we understand the way that love grows, and can apply that to the Spirit. But how is the Father's growth manifested?

How is One who is unchangeable changing?

It stumped me for a minute, until He stepped in.

And then it occurred to me; perhaps the Father's growth is not in His essence but in His production.

Perhaps it is in the very expansion of the cosmos.

Perhaps the increase of our love feeds the very force of the Father's creative power, and out shoots matter and energy and liturgy and ritual and order and beauty and passion and endurance and hot, molten, burning, unconquerable love.

And so the stars and the planets dance, and the bees and the ants dance, and the church and its liturgy dance, and we dance.

We dance.

We dance.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ode on a Grecian Urn

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

-- John Keats

Friday, October 16, 2009

The soul of God, shouting for joy

Where others see but the dawn coming over the hill,
I see the soul of God shouting for joy.

-- William Blake

Excruciating beauty

God is weaving my life so as to show me how pain, love, and beauty intertwine.

He gives me excruciating beauty.

Some days I think I may die of joy and heartbreak.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

on the Spirit

I've been thinking about the Holy Spirit being described by St. Augustine as the love between the Father and the Son.

If this is the case, what does it say about us, given that we are part of the body of Christ, and children of the Father?

What happens as we expand and broaden our love for Him and for eachother? Is there some corresponding procession of Spirit?

Does the Spirit increase?

More Thomas Howard on poetry

Howard's thoughts below echo recent comments by Dr. Ken Craven.

"It is the language whose first halting utterances are our efforts to describe our experience by getting images of it from other realms of experience. ... It is the language, skipping or solemn, that elevates our experience by imposing a form upon it, not arbitrarily, but because it suspects that the truest way of speaking of that experience is formally. It is the language that... disposes and arrays the common stuff of experience so that it is ritually transfigured from mere function into an instance of glory.

For it is the language that takes a serious view of experience. It is not satisfied with the idea of mere random tumble. It is not mere random tumble, it insists. There is something here. There is something to be said. There is something, oddly, to be elicited from this tumble. Take it. Grasp it. Handle it. Try one thing and another. Try to shape it. Impose some form on it. Lo... lo... when you are finally satisfied that you have imposed the right form on it, you will wonder whether that form was imposed by you, or whether it emerged from the thing itself.

This is the business of the poets. They are burdened and happy spirits who can do this--this that we all try to do. Burdened because they know that the most important thing is the most daunting thing--to seek and find and utter that significance that emerges from the union of form and content; happy because from time to time they succeed."

(from pages later...)

"There is the paradox of poetry. What seems to have been imposed rather arbitrarily by the poet... ends up seeming to rise from the stuff itself"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Full of texture and flavor and knobbiness

From Chance or the Dance?

"There is, it would almost seem left over from our childhood, the invincible desire to locate experience and grasp it and savor it in the same way that we used to need to get hold of some new toy and handle it and get our teeth into it. This is pointless, we suspect--this carousel that spins us past things and never lets us get the ring. And the faculty in us that shouts at us above the wheezing of the calliope that something is there, and that it is as full of texture and flavor and knobbiness as we wish it were--this faculty is imagination."

Creator of our desires

Oh Lord, become the master of our passions, and the creator of our desires.

-- R. Marklund

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Never enough

You are
cool drink
and unquenchable thirst
you are
quiet satiety
and unapeasable hunger
you are
soft touch
and howling itch
the more I get of you
the more I want.

--Suzanne DeWitt Hall

More snippets of goodness

More snippets of goodness from Thomas Howard's Chance or the Dance?
  • He calls poetry "the noblest utterance", and says that "Image making is what delights us about certain people's conversation." He says that poetry carves shapes using words. " is in poetry that we try to speak the language that is suggested to us by our imagination as the real language of things." He says that poetry comes through the midwifery of the poet. Poetry halts us and tells us to to look at the prosaic more closely. Through it, the clutter of daily experience becomes epiphany.
  • On application of the imagination as part of reason: "And when we do exercise it, it is in order to bring about a heightened awareness of the experience in question. To do so is to reach across a gulf that cannot be spanned ... by the analytic faculty in us."
  • He talks about the new myth, in which imagination is cast off as foolishness, and points out that in this myth, connections are stripped away, reducing things down to what they think is "truth". But this is a confusion of truth with mere facts.
  • Related to this idea was one I found profound. That when you strip things of their context, of their interconnectedness and meaning, paring away to nothing but a set of facts, the thing is lessened. It is no longer itself when it is -only- and merely itself.
  • "...if we scrutinize the way we do things, we shall find that we have festooned everything with formality and that nearly every act is loaded down with gestures that bespeak much more than can be discerned in the functional demands of the situation itself."
  • The new myth says "Politics and commerce and urban planning and medicine and housekeeping--here is where the real stuff is."

on poetry

Thinking a lot about poetry while reading this book by Thomas Howard.

It occurred to me that poetry signifies order and harmony and serenity and joy; in other words, the supreme reality. These aspects of things are the real and true. The physical details are merely the accidents of deeper truth.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It does not mean nothing

From Chance or the Dance? by Thomas Howard, Ch1, pg 12-13:

" did not mean nothing that the sun went down and night came and the moon and stars appeared and then dawn and the sun and morning again and another day, which would itself wax and then wane into twilight and dusk and night. It did not mean nothing to them that the time of work was under the aegis of the bright sun and that it was the sun that poured life into the seeds that they were planting and that brought out the sweat on their forehaeds, and that the time of rest was under the scepter of the silver moon. This was the diurnal exhibition of what was True--that there are a panoply and a rythm and a cycle, a waxing and a waning, a rising and a setting and then a rising again. And to them it was not for nothing that the king wore a crown of gold and that the lord mayor wore medallions. This was the political exhibition of what was, in fact, True--that there are royalty and authority and heirarchy at the heart of things and that it is possible to see this in lions and eagles and queen bees as well as in the court of the king. To them it was not for nothing that a man went in to a woman in private and uncovered her and knew ecstasy in the experieince of her being. This was simply a case in point of what was True anyway--that there is a mystery of being not to be thrown open to all, and that the right knowledge of another being is ecstatic, and that what appears under these carnal forms is, in fact, the image of what is actually True.

A perfect pleasure

A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can you want?

--Oscar Wilde

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Last day but one

If every day in the life of a school could be the last day but one, there would be little fault to find with it.

--Stephen Leacock

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A story unfolds: pray for me

My BP continues his exploration and reclamation of the Christian imagination, and we've been discussing the enlightenment mania for breaking things down into discrete facts, thereby stripping them of meaning (which exists only in and through connections). Thomas Howard's Chance or the Dance? A critique of Modern Secularism is a beautifully written exploration of this topic.

As I was contemplating this during my devotional hour the other day, I pondered what the key might be to releasing people into the freedom of wonder. The story of the Emperor's New Clothes has been coming to mind for weeks, because it represents the enlightenment in reverse.

As I thought more about this, and what sort of myth this might be, a story unfolded, and I captured it in the few remaining pages of my tattered journal.

I am not a writer of fiction, let alone fable or fairy tale. But this thing tumbled out like a pent up stream, and I merely had to catch and direct it.

It was dazzling.

The magic of the experience is fading, but at the time I felt nearly fragile with concern that the beauty of it would not be conveyed, that my BP would not think that it fits with what he is doing, or worse, that he simply wouldn't like it.

But I know that it came from God.

I've been asking for the intercession of Lewis and Tolkien and Chesterton, and believe that this story was a response to their prayer. I think that if I am obedient in finishing, it may even be good. I'm not sure how it is to be used, but I think it may be good.

Please pray for me about this.

C.S. Lewis on Unsatisfied Desire

Unsatisfied desire is in itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.

--C.S. Lewis

Friday, October 9, 2009

The best part

The highlight of the retreat for me was the sacrament of reconciliation.

I'd been burdened by a particular set of sins for some time, and was mortified at having to say them out loud. But the compassion in the voice of my BP was enormous, and the weight of his hand on my head as he absolved me conferred nothing but blessing.

I am so grateful that our God reaches out to touch and heal us through the sacraments. And for our beautiful priests who serve so faithfully.

Run, jump, play

Run, jump, play, but do not sin.

--John Bosco

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Peach season continues

The peach I ate was so juicy it was more drinking than eating.

Peaches are magical.

Retreat image #2: Rainbow connection

God sent me another image while praying for someone at the retreat. I initially resisted passing it on because it was so...



You see, I pictured her dancing on a hilltop, in hippie garb (Let the Sunshine In!) and there were rainbows flowing out from her head.

Yep. Rainbows.

I continued to pray, despite wondering why I was picturing something so My Little Pony.

But the image wouldn't go away so I gave in and told her about it, feeling ridiculous the whole time.

As the prayer continued, she mentioned that as a teenager she had prayed to be a light to her friends. She loved God and wanted Him to shine through her.

When I heard this, I nearly wept with wonder, because the rainbow image clicked.

He has made her to be a prism. To take in His light and refract it into a brilliant spectrum of visible color.

She was made to be like Mary, magnifying the Lord.

I'll never dismiss one of His images again, no matter how silly.

G.K. Chesterton on Joy

Joy is the gigantic secret of Christianity.

--GK Chesterton

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Intensity of love

The comment below from Ike was just so jam-packed with good stuff that I asked to add it as a post.


In his biography of Jonathan Edwards, page 497, George Marsden writes, "In the Edwardses' world, the meaning of life was found in intense loves, including earthly loves." It was the tone of their life together. They understood that God is of such a nature, creation is for such a purpose, redemption is of such a power, that intensity of love is the meaning of it all. Intensity. Passion. Wholeheartedness.

Deuteronomy 6:5 makes intense love the greatest commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." Moderate love is a sin. Maybe the worst sin.

As Augustine said, "Give me a man in love. He knows what I mean."

Dance of veils

I don't tend to be a visual person, but it seems that God is speaking to me visually more often, particularly when praying for others.

During the retreat I prayed with a tender soul who our Lord has been wooing. She was tormented because she thought she couldn't hear His voice.

She loves to dance, and the image that He sent me for her was that she was dressed like a harem girl in a room hung with layer after layer of veils.

Curtains of filmy white.

She danced her way in joy, weaving in and through them, back and forth, going deeper and deeper in.

He is behind all the veils, waiting for her, smiling as He waits.

He does not hide.

He merely waits behind the veil and watches us dance.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Loss or gain?

I was on retreat this past weekend. More on that in other posts.

While driving home with the friend of my heart, we talked about sex.

Over the past months she's been getting brief hints of my Catholic understanding of sexuality, like wisps of the incense she has come to love. Yesterday we waded in a bit more deeply, though there are still more talks to come, more depths to be plumbed.

I explained the basic premise of God's design for sex as having two constitutive elements; it is both unitive and procreative. When either of these elements is missing, sexuality loses it's sacredness. It becomes disordered.

For example, when contracepting, we lose the procreative element and the ramifications are complex and wide reaching. Too broad to cover in this post.

Similarly in homosexuality, the unitive element may be there (and often isn't), but the procreative is also lost.

In the hook up culture, both elements are ditched, and all sacredness and meaning are stripped away, leaving nothing but a biological itch-scratching. Sex becomes very little different than urination or defecation.

(Appalling. But true.)

In thinking back on this conversation with my DiDi this morning, I realized that this is why masturbation is sin. It is neither unitive nor procreative, and so strips our sexuality of sacredness.

It is interesting that we view denial of our sexual urges as a loss, as if in not giving in to temptation, we are losing out. But it occurs to me that it is -in- giving in to these temptations that we suffer loss, because what we give up in those choices is so much bigger. We lose beauty and meaning and power.

On saying NO

I heard a horrifying stat the other day. It was that 1 out of 4 teenage girls in the US have STDs. 2 out of every 4 African American girls have STDs.

How can any reasoning creature look at this and continue to believe that sex education and early access to condoms and birth control is the answer?

How can anyone look at this and believe that teaching our children to say -NO- was not effective? Isn't effectiveness measured by numbers? Shouldn't rising rates of occurrence tell us something?

When are we going to wake up?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Close to you

One day recently I began singing this song in the shower. It got me thinking about how being in love changes your view of the world. The eyes of your heart are open. More on this in another post; this one will focus on the song itself.

(Yes I know; I am tragically uncool. If I were even an ounce more hip I would link to the Cranberries version of this song, but the Carpenters give it a whole lot more soul.)

Close to You

Why do birds suddenly appear
Every time you are near?
Just like me
they long to be
Close to you.

Why do stars fall off from the sky
Every time you walk by?
Just like me
they long to be
Close to you.

On the day that you were born
The angels got together
and decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair
of gold and starlight in your eyes of blue.

That is why
all the girls in town
Follow you
all around
Just like me
they long to be
Close to you.

Just like me
they long to be
Close to you.

Just like me
they long to be
Close to you.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Veiled but not hidden

One of the readers of this blog, Ike, recently commented that the Bible is difficult but not impossible. That echoed a thought which came while praying for insight into the key to unleashing wonder back into faith. He whispered that His answers are veiled, but not hidden. He does not hide His truths, but they may be veiled.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

He's built perfection out of hunger

The Rumi poem in the previous post from this morning echoes the theme of a separation between truth and love.

It reminds me of an exhibit I saw a few years ago at the Corning Museum of Glass; a collection of unbelievably lifelike plants, flowers, and fruit all made of glass.

They were in cases and could not be touched but were so incredibly real that in many cases you could not tell that they were not.

So there they were, these creations of man, mimicking the wonder of God's creative power, but lacking the softness, the scent, and the fruition of His work.

Beautiful imitations. Brittle and fragile and forced, like facts without love.

The poem below says it well (and even mentions peaches).

The Ware Collection of Glass Flowers and Fruit, Harvard Museum
by Mark Doty

Strange paradise, complete with worms,
monument of an obsessive will to fix forms;
every apricot or yellow spot's seen so closely,
in these blown blooms and fruit, that exactitude
is not quite imitation. Leaf and root,
the sweet flag's flaring bud already,
at the tip, blackened; it's hard to remember
these were ballooned and shaped by breath
they're lovely because they seem
to decay; blue spots on bluer plums,
mold tarring a striped rose. I don't want to admire
the glassblower's academic replica,
his copies correct only to a single sense.
And why did a god so invested in permanence
choose so fragile a medium, the last material
he might expect to last? Better prose
to tell the forms of things, or illustration.
Though there's something seductive in this impossibility:
transparent color telling the live mottle of peach,
the blush or tint of crab, englobed,
gorgeous, edible. How else match that flush?
He's built a perfection out of hunger,
fused layer upon layer, swirled until
what can't be swallowed, won't yield
almost satisfies, an art
mouthed to the shape of how soft things are,
how good, before they disappear

How delicate yesterday

So delicate yesterday,
the night-singing birds by the creek.
Their words were:
You may make a jewelery flower
out of gold and rubies and emeralds,
but it will have not fragrance.

-- Rumi

Friday, October 2, 2009

Speaking of new eras

I am down to the last few pages of my beaten up, crammed full journal, which covered my spiritual journey from May 2007 (before this blog was born) till the present.

It will be a bitter-sweet parting. This period of my life has been a time of tremendous love and joy and discovery coupled with seasons of darkness and hard realities. Finishing the book is like closing a chapter with which I'm not quite sure I want to be done.

But my choices are few. I must either close the book, stop writing, or stop living. Those are the only options.

Thank you Lord for such a time of sweetness with you.

Thank you book, for your faithful companionship.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Over the next few days I'll be writing more about truth, reality, and God, because it has been a focus of discussion with my BP re. his work on the Christian imagination.

I was thinking about how the evil one loves to steal words and distort them for his own purposes ("choice" being a fine example), and how inaccurate a phrase "The Enlightenment" truly is.

We are riding the edge of the wave of reclamation, a restoration of wonder which will bring us to greater understanding of creation, and there will be a word to capture the essence of this era. I'm not sure how early in a cultural shift the name for it becomes apparent, but I want a word for it, as I write about it. I've been playing with a few, but my current favorite is "Delightenment".

I like that it begins with "delight" because a restoration of wonder and love to reason is key to deeper truth. I also like that it conveys an undoing of the distorted aspects of the enlightenment without doing away with it completely.

More as it unfolds...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Truthless love and loveless truth

This morning I heard someone talking about St. Jerome, who touched on the ideas of truth and love.

He said that love without truth is mere sentiment, and that truth without love is stark.

This got me going down a whole line of thought, because it directly reflects where our society is today.

We view love as mere feeling, coupled with an anything-goes and a quit-when-it-stops-feeling-good mentality. Romantic love is fleeting and then ditched, and all other forms of love are really about niceness.

Playing nice has replaced loving.

Love has been stripped of its teeth.

At the other end, we have the concept of truth stripped of love (which is actually a logical fallacy; truth IS love). Without love, truth cannot exist, and we are left holding a handful of facts with no glue to hold them together.

So here we sit in the oppressive darkness of a truthless love and a loveless truth. And we call that freedom and "Enlightenment."

How do we find our way out?

What you are in the dark

Character is what you are in the dark.

-- Dwight L. Moody

(Uh oh, I'm in trouble.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Argument from Desire and Neurology

It's not just me, other bloggers occasionally contemplate how desire is connected with God. One example appeared here:

CS Lewis' Argument from Desire (and Neurology)

Dancing, leaping, daring life.

If we get our information from the biblical material there is no
doubt that the Christian life is a dancing, leaping, daring

-- Eugene Peterson

Monday, September 28, 2009

Night Song

I never understood
the power of a name
until a love affair began
with yours.

Now the whisper of it
is in my ear
the shape of it
is in my mouth
the feel of it
is on my tongue
the taste of it
is on my lips
the sweet rush of it
is in my breast.

In the still of night
when I hunger for you
your name fills my heart
and I wait.

--Chantelle Franc

Sunday, September 27, 2009

All great things

"All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: Freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope."

--Winston Churchill

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On a hot summer night

I watched part of a rather depressing "documentary" which followed Meatloaf on his recent re-entry tour. Why such a thing was considered worth documenting I'm not quite sure.

It brought to mind the lyrics of one of his songs however.

On a hot summer night
would you offer your throat
to the wolf with the red roses?

Will he offer me his mouth?


Will he offer me his teeth?


Will he offer me his jaws?


Will he offer me his hunger?


Again; will he offer me his hunger?


And will he starve without me?


And does he love me?



On a hot summer night
would you offer your throat
to the wolf with the red roses?


Friday, September 25, 2009

The imprinting of intimacy

I've been thinking about desire.

I know, I know, what's new? It is, after all, in the title of this place. It is it's raison d'etre.

So there I was, once again thinking about desire. This time about how disordered my understanding and experience of it has been for so long. All my life really.

The problem came from getting the whole sex thing out of order. I was a product of my era; sex came into relationships early.

Very early.

Here's the way it -should- go:

First comes love.

Out of love comes desire; a desire for union that builds over time.

As the relationship grows and deepens, the desire for union grows and deepens until it becomes a burning gulf between you.

A raging fire.

Remaining in the desire becomes a delicious torture. An exquisite torment.

I think this time of waiting, this season of restraint and control, imprints on the man and woman, and changes them forever. I think that their bodies and minds and spirits are changed by the waiting, the denial, the anticipation. They are marked by it for ever, for eachother.

And once the time of waiting is fulfilled and they finally come together, the union must be sweet beyond words, and must pierce the eternal.

And the mark that the waiting made on their hearts, minds, and souls, can never be forgotten, or removed.

It is no wonder that marriages so often struggle. So few couples receive this profound gift and grace.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A theft by any other name

Isn't it interesting that "The Enlightenment" did exactly the opposite of what it is called?

It stole the Light of the world from millions who now suffer in darkness.

I Sing the Body Electric (IV)

Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the prostrate dawn,
Undulating into the willing and yielding day,
Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh’d day.

--Walt Whitman

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

He allows it and weeps

In yesterday's women's discipleship group we discussed the deuterocanonical books of the Bible, because of the OT reading at Sunday's mass (from Wisdom). One of my tasks with these lovely women is to help them understand Roman Catholicism and overcome biases which have taken a lifetime to accumulate.

It is joyful work.

One of the dearest of these sisters comes from a Baptist background and had a very hard time with several of my comments. For example, the idea that the church did not come from the Bible, but vice versa.

Something she said still has me thinking.

She asked if I thought that God would allow people, mere people, to remove pieces of what should truly be included in His holy word. She reasonsed that God must have allowed the post-reformation removal of various books because they didn't belong there in the first place. And if they did belong, then He would have made sure they remained.

The answer, of course, is free will. He permits all sorts of things He doesn't desire.

He has permitted His Word to be used to justify all sorts of horrific behavior.

He has permitted His church, His spouse, to reject His mother.

He has permitted consumation of the marital covenant between bridegroom and bride (in the Eucharist) to be stripped away, and has remained faithful within a sexless marriage.

We have a God who allows all these things, all these affronts from His people, His children, His church.

He allows it, and weeps.

I Sing the Body Electric (III)

I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well,
All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.

--Walt Whitman

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

WARNING: Political post--proceed at your own risk

One of my son's homework assignments for the weekend was to come up with a controversial solution to an important social issue of the day. The assignment sprung out of recent reading of Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal.

I was surprised to learn that High School students are still reading this piece, and I don't understand why it is discussed as being shocking in this day and age. We are content to allow thousands of babies to be chopped into pieces and incinerated each day here in the US. In parts of Eastern Europe, young women are paid to get pregnant and abort at a certain, optimal number of weeks, when the fetus reaches the perfect stage for use in facial beauty products and treatments. In other parts of Europe it is legal to kill imperfect infants after they are born.

So if all of this is perfectly OK, why should the thought of eating them be so bad? Wouldn't it be less of a waste if all these millions of blobs of flesh were consumed?

I'm shocked that A Modest Proposal remains in the junior-year corpus in this day and age.

Shouldn't we keep English classes out of our bedrooms? Err, kitchens?

Isn't this sort of thing an infringement on a woman's right to menu plan?

I Sing the Body Electric (II)

You would wish long and long to be with him, you would wish to sit by him in the boat that you and he might touch each other.

--Walt Whitman

Monday, September 21, 2009

Exploding heart

This weekend my daughter said, while looking at the dog:

"My heart feels like it will explode with joy when I look at him."

I know just what she means.

I Sing the Body Electric (I)

...the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists,
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist and knees, dress does not hide him,
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more

--Walt Whitman

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More on blood and roses

On Wednesday my BP asked me to listen to a brilliant talk by Dr. Peter Kreeft (one of my uber-heroes, from whom I may be taking a class in October!) called The Culture War.

He finished the talk with a connection to my recent strange dream on blood and roses.

The whole talk concentrated on the fact that we are at war, and reminded us of our weapons.

Christ's weapons.

The weapon of the cross.

He talked about our nation needing to be spiritually pruned, as ancient Israel was so often pruned. He said that we -will- bleed, but that a second spring will come, bringing new buds. But that it would not be without blood.

It never happens without blood. Without suffering.

So... I'm not sure what our Lord's message is to me through this. I don't have a direct correlation between the blood and roses of my dream and the spiritual battles that I am engaging in. But I do accept the consolation and the encouragement that they provide.

And I thank you, Lord.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kreeft said:

We will bleed... a second springtime will come, with new buds. But not without blood. It never happens without blood, without sacrifice.


It occurred to me that Friday is the penultimate day of the week; a perfect blend of anticipation and fulfillment.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Let your scent carry me

Wake me in the dark of night
let me feel you in the texture of linen
whisper my name in the settling of beams
let your scent bridge the distance
and carry me
to dreams of you.

--Chantelle Franc

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Today for example

Some days I want to scream with love and rage.

Blood red roses

A few nights ago I dreamt that I got out of bed to find my legs and the sheets splattered with blood and small chunks of flesh. When I began to clean up, and looked more closely at one of the fleshy bits, I discovered that they were, instead, small dark red rosebuds from a bouquet that someone had pushed down between the sheets.

Isn't that strange?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Return to lovemaking

Over the weekend I promised to write more about lovemaking, so I return to it now.

In that post I said that love making within a marriage is unitive, drawing husband and wife together. Making the two become one. In a sense, it creates love between. It builds it up and strengthens it.

Because of that, lovemaking is not simply to be looked to for pleasure and as a right, but for the unification it provides. It is a responsibility and obligation of marriage. Like taking vitamins (which hopefully taste good).

At some points in marriage, it may even have an aspect of sacrifice. (But then, isn't the best lovemaking sacrificial rather than self seeking?)

We are all called to chaste living. Even within marriage, where chastity takes the form of control over our minds, and avoiding the lustful use of eachother.

But how to properly manage any season of misplaced passions which arise? If a man finds himself attracted to another woman, perhaps even very strongly, what is he to do with that energy?

It would clearly be wrong to use a spouse by pretending they are the coveted one. But would it be wrong if he were to channel that passion toward his wife, resisting the urge to fantasize?

I am drawn to the idea of lovemaking as an act of worship. If we view it that way, why shouldn't we be able to channel -all- of our passions into this ultimate act of giving to our Lord, even those which are not properly ordered?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Know me more

In future I may call this the summer of the peach.

I found a longer and a shorter version of this poem, but preferred the shorter (below).

Upon reading, it occurs to me to wonder if the fruit Eve bit was a peach...

Know me more

Share a peach with me
softly ripe
and by it
know me more.

--Chantelle Franc

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Been thinking about lovemaking.

Love -making-.

Generation of love through the act of love.

More soon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

St. Augustine on Longing

The whole life of the good Christian is a holy longing. What you desire ardently, as yet you do not see... by withholding of the vision, God extends the longing, through longing he extends the soul, by extending he makes room in it. Let us long because we are to be filled... that is our life, to be exercised by longing.

--St. Augustine

Friday, September 11, 2009

The chaste journey

Our Christian journey is a lot like chaste courting.

It is a walk filled with acts of love, self restraint, and sweetness coupled with a terrible incompleteness, awaiting fulfillment.

No shine without friction

A gem cannot be polished without friction; the child of God cannot be perfected without adversity.

-- Author Unknown

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Frozen with waiting

I am a spiral vine
grown 'round your tree.
When you are gone
I hold the empty shape
cradling your form
as if frozen
with waiting.

--Chantelle Franc

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breath alone

Pick up my call
but say nothing
your breath alone enough
to calm my soul.

--Chantelle Franc

Naked vulnerability and freedom

The other day as I drifted off to sleep I visited our Lord under the waterfall, and He spoke to me of skin.

It was important and compelling, but given that I fell asleep, I lost what it was that He actually disclosed.

In contemplating it this morning, I thought about the skin being the largest organ of the human body, and I thought about how I climb on His lap and sit, skin to skin against Him.

There is more, much more, to explore on this. But what did hit me is that in nakedness, there is both vulnerability and freedom. And that the two, perhaps, go hand in hand.

Monday, September 7, 2009

C.S. Lewis on valued things

The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.

-- C. S. Lewis

Friday, September 4, 2009

One who loves to love

I've been thinking about loving.

About how some people are just easy to love. Some people you just love to love. Loving them is a joy.

In some special cases, actively loving them is all you may even want. Loving them is such a joy that nothing in return is required.

Any love that -is- returned is a wonderful gift, but loving them would be enough.


I think mothers are good at this kind of love. They simply bask in the light shining from their little ones, expecting nothing back.

And that helps me grasp the mystery of God's love for us, despite how little we give Him in return.

He just sits and watches and loves loving us.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Even Soloman

I read a passage from 2 Kings this morning on how Solomon turned to the various gods of his hundreds of wives and concubines.

And I found this to be stunning and appalling and comforting all at the same time.

Here's a guy who is so favored by God that he is granted a specific wish and allowed to build the temple which was to become the center of Jewish worship for generations. His kingdom flourished and he was widely renowned for his wisdom and the blessings which stemmed from it.

And what does he do, this wisest of wise men?

He builds high places for other gods.

I -hope- that this was a Clinton-esque lack of judgment grown out of weakness for women rather than a true turning away of faith and belief in the great I AM.

Either way, it's appalling.

And yet comforting.

If one so very wise can be so very foolish, then my own lack of fidelity seems a bit more understandable.

How He puts up with us, I'll never know.


Today I feel like I am finally returning to myself. Praise God.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Word and the message

This morning I heard that Marshall McLuhan died a convert to Roman Catholicism, and that his final public appearance was to give a talk on the Eucharist. He is known as one of the great intellectuals of our day.

Several of his phrases have become part of the American lexicon, such as the concept of a "global village". Another is "the medium is the message".

This morning I heard the latter phrase used in reference to Christ. He was (and is) the medium, and He was (and is) the message.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

C.S. Lewis on Joy (5)

From Shadowlands:

"The most intense joy is not in the having, but in the desire. Delight that never fades, bliss that is eternal, is only yours when what you most desire is out of reach."

--C.S. Lewis

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Miraculous faith

I recently read Mark's account of the last supper, in which Jesus speaks of one who would betray Him.

My mind wandered from there to the institution of the Eucharist, and how terribly scandalized the disciples must have been. Here was this man who knew the scriptures well enough to correct the Pharisees and teach in the temple, speaking of things which went directly against the law of Moses. To talk about drinking blood would have been shocking and revolting to this group which was raised to keep kosher.

Blood was -not- to be consumed.

I've thought about this aspect of the event before, but this morning realized that they had another reason to be shocked: Jesus said these things within the context of what was a well established and beloved family liturgy. Prayers over bread and cup were/are a standard part of the passover meal.

Jesus had the audacity to actually change prayers which had been prayed for generations, and to tell them to drink His blood.

It is a miracle that any of the disciples remained.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Heaven itself

"Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend."


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Plutarch on the mind

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 29: knowledge of evil

Back to the garden I go...

I was thinking about the snake telling Eve that the tree would make her like God, knowing good and evil.

I thought about the word know, and the "biblical" use of the term as sexual union. I think that original sin came about because Eve -knew- evil. It became part of our spiritual DNA through her having come to -know- it.

It was the first act of covenantal infidelity which the Jews imitated throughout the OT history, and which we continue to perpetuate even now.

I'm beginning to think that all of Christianity centers around sexual union in one way or other.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 28: return to nakedness

I was looking at Genesis again over the weekend, this time at the story of the fall. The passage regarding covering the nakedness of Adam and Eve caught my attention. I thought about what it must have been like before the leather garments which God crafted for them.

It reminded me of how God strips away my clothing as I walk through the waterfall, so that I come to Him naked.

Francis de Sales, my patron saint, coached his protege Jeanne de Chantal about being naked before Him.

I think that in the fulfillment of time we will cast off all barriers to each other and to Him, returning to the nakedness of the garden, gloriously resurrected and unashamed.

Shakespeare on violent delights

These violent delights have violent ends
and in their triumph die,
like fire and powder, which,
as they kiss, consume.

--Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene VI

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 27: the flavor of His love

Yesterday I was blessed by the opportunity to do my devotionals in the sanctuary, before Him. I tried hard to listen rather than just talk talk talking.

Not an easy task.

I went to Him through the waterfall, and He did indeed reveal something.

He told me that His love is a love which can only be satisfied by consumation.

On writing

"Writing is the shaping of letters to represent spoken words which, in turn, represent what is in the soul."

--The Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 26: Truth and Beauty

I've been thinking about the inextricable connection between truth and beauty, and what that means for ecclesial communions (aka churches and church denominations).

It's sort of an if A=B and B=C then A=C concept, though I'm sure many would argue against the overt simplicity of my premise.

Given that Christ = truth, and that beauty and truth cannot really be separated, therefore Christ = beauty, then what does that mean for forms of worship? I think that the more beauty there is, the more Christ must be there.

Peter Kreeft talks about tragic stories being more beautiful than comedies, and Christianity is founded on an initial, tragic series of events. It is beautiful in part due to the tragedy.

Those churches which continue to honor and remember the tragedy through liturgy, re-present the beauty, and continue it.

Anamnesis = re-presenting Christ's death = truth = beauty.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 25: more on the Big Bang

I was thinking more about God's action at the creation of time, and how it mirrors man's procreative process. I thought particularly about what precedes the eventual climax when our sexuality is rightly ordered and consecrated.

In rightly ordered sexuality, we come together covenantially in love. Throughout the act of lovemaking, there is an intensification of that love, and of passion, pleasure, and joy, which eventually culminates in a great unleashing of force.

Given that we are made in His image and likeness, I imagine such a buildup within Him as He prepared to create all of creation. I imagine His love and passion and pleasure and joy reaching such a fever pitch that it exploded, creating matter and energy and light and time and space.

And eventually, making man.

All of this taking place within a covenant of love.

No wonder the evil one works so hard at corrupting sexuality. It is the very power of God.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Picasso on computers

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.

--Pablo Picasso

Pangs of lost love

From The Alchemy of Imagination and Love in Owen Barfield's The Rose on the Ash-Heap:

"He also learns about 'lost love and the pangs it induces in human hearts', and how, through experiencing romantic love, one can be enabled 'not merely to compose the most delightful and piercing-sweet songs, but actually to make many important discoveries concerning the secret workings of Nature--discoveries which he would never have been impelled to make at all, but for the loving interest which the loss of his Lady' awakens in the bereaved lover."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where'd you go?

Where'd you go?
I miss you so,
Seems like it's been forever,
That you've been gone.

Please come back home...

--Fort Minor

Day 23: Bang indeed

I had a conversation yesterday about the compatibility of Christianity and evolution, and how well the big bang theory aligns with the Biblical narrative.

Can you imagine the results of God saying "Let there be light"? How could it be anything other than cataclysmically explosive?

Bang indeed.

I contemplated this again during my devotional time this morning, and thought about how very masculine our God is. The way He begins life among us now is not so very different from the way He began the life of the universes. The Big Bang was essentially a cosmic, life giving, mind-blowing orgasm.

It's one more reason that sexuality is sacred. In each act of procreation (or potential procreation), God's creative power and force culminates in a grand climax, mirroring that first explosion.

All of creation are fractals reflecting His very being.

Bang indeed.


A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunitic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.

-- C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 22: Rose on the ash heap

Yesterday my BP pointed me at Owen Barfield's reflections on the Christian imagination, and thank goodness he did. I've been gradually losing myself over the past weeks, and reading a few papers on this subject brought me back to who I am.

Thank God for him. I needed rescue.

One of Barfield's fictional pieces is called The Rose on the Ash-Heap. Here is a segment from that piece which I found compelling:

"'...among the sooty weeds struggling up out of the refuse on the Ash-Heap', a garden Rose is growing. Like imagination and love in the modern world, this Rose was 'a sad and spindly-looking object with one dull red knob at the top, yet there was some magic in the twilight which attracted Sultan's attention to it. It was now nearly dark, and many stars had already appeared in the sky. Sultan looked at the flower again. Yes, it was glowing! It seemed to be giving forth a light of its own into the dusk!... And at last Sultan realized that it was not merely glowing but also singing to him. It was singing something like this:

Earth despairs not, though her Spark
Underground is gone--
Roses whisper after dark
Secrets of the Sun.

That got me thinking about how Seal's song Kissed by a Rose echoes this theme. Probably disconnected, but perhaps not.

Either way, it got me to try something new; I bought my first iTunes song, despite having had an iPod for several years.

And it rescued me from the doldrums in which I'd been wallowing.

Mocking trifles

Our misery is that we thirst so little for these sublime things, and so much for the mocking trifles of time and space.

-- Charles H. Spurgeon

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 21: Wasn't Lent enough?

Wasn't Advent enough? Wasn't Lent enough? Do I truly need another season of darkness, this one worse than the other two combined?

The answer, of course, is that I must indeed need it. And intellectually I accept, and I pray that it is efficacious.

But it doesn't feel like it.

No, not at all.

Prophecy by Bananarama...

It's a cruel, cruel summer.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

St. Faustina on Temptation

I've been trying to find a quote from St. Faustina on temptation, but haven't had any luck, so I'll have to paraphrase it here.

Temptation gives us a chance to demonstrate our obedience to God.

I like this concept. Instead of saying "no" to something, we are saying "yes" to SomeOne.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 15: The lure of Twilight

I finished reading the first of the Twilight books, which I've been intending to get to for some months. I wanted to see what all the buzz was about; I like to understand sweeping cultural phenomena. Dan Brown's DaVinci Code also fell into this camp, though I have to say that Stephanie Meyer is a better writer than Mr. Brown. Her heroes are empathetic and likeable, and while the story contains a bit of action/adventure, it doesn't rest on action alone.

All that on the plus side.

I can see why tween and teen girls go ga-ga over it. Edward is a beautiful bad boy who is saved from his own darkness by the love of a good woman (er, girl). It is outrageously, unapologetically romantic. I'm guessing that if the Harlequin Romance crowd discovers it there could be a whole new wave of fans.

While we aren't talking Romeo and Juliet quality, the love and desire and control and sacrifice portrayed reflect what is in fact true and beautiful. Our feminine hearts cry out for this kind of love, for a hero who will deny himself and save us from the threats of the world. And while I don't know how many guys read it, it is in some ways a good model for young men, demonstrating heroic virtue and self denial.

Interesting stuff. And I think for once it might not be a horrible cultural influence unlike much of what our young people receive.

As for me? I found myself alternating between being Bella and being Edward. Between lightness and dark, between darkness and light. Temptation and desire, restraint and self indulgence.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.