Gratitude, it seems to me, is the starting point for our lives of prayer, creativity and living well among others. But gratitude is easy to say and harder to live by because it’s hard work. Saying “thank you” to God and to others around us is the simplest thing to do and, yet, we so often forget to do it. Or don’t make time to do it. Or don’t make it a part of our daily experience.
“Here I am,” is perhaps the most authentic response we can make to God. “Here I am” is awareness of the present and of the fact that I am in the presence of something great and beyond myself. “Here I am” is the beginning of my day, the busy-ness in the midst of my day, and the end of the day when my head hits the pillow and I briefly try to recall when I might have experienced God.
It’s almost Christmas. It’s the fourth week of advent. And we wait. But for what?
I had never heard of this pilgrimage until a few years ago when I met a couple of novices in a class I was taking at Aquinas Institute of Theology, and I’ve been intrigued by the notion ever since. So I opened the book with curiosity and wondered what it might have to teach a 55-year-old lay spiritual director and writer. The answer I received was, “a lot,” and so I highly recommend the book to anyone looking for reassurance about his or her own life journeys. We are, after all, all pilgrims.
Tonight on our drive from St. Louis north to Des Moines, Iowa (en route to visit friends in Minnesota) we listened to Krista Tippett’s “On Being” interview with Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, of Homeboy Industries, who has worked with gang members in some of the toughest neighborhoods in LA for decades. During the interview he [...]
The history of our art, our music, our science and engineering breakthroughs more often than not springs from our ability to pay attention to the world around us. The ordinary world, from its molecules and atoms to the grandest of canyons and the vastness of oceans, continues to inspire and motivate change, innovation and art.
We need big chunks of time when we’re not watching the clock, when we’re not worried about the next appointment. We need this time to be available to God and available to others. This availability — this love — doesn’t come free or even cheap. It will cost us something.
Can we believe there is such a place for all of us? A place where God dwells and waits for our return? A place where God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love?” We need to claim this truth. We are beloved. We are all broken and waiting to be transformed.
So much of prayer, like so much of the creative process, is in fact about waiting. But it is not a passive waiting as much as it is a time of expectation that something will happen, a hidden promise that revelation or inspiration will come if we leave ourselves open to that secret and mystical movement of God in our lives.
Asking “what if” is one of the most creative and contemplative questions we can ask ourselves. How many books, poems, paintings, songs, plays or other creative works have come to life because the artist dared to ask, “what if?”