Pushing a wheelbarrow

There’s a wonderful story set in medieval times in which a man sees a laborer walking by with a wheelbarrow and asks what he is doing. “Can’t you see I’m pushing a wheelbarrow,” the labor replies. Another man comes by doing the same thing and he, too, is asked, “What are you doing?” He replies, “Can’t you see? i’m perform the work of God. I’m building Chartres Cathedral.”

Robert A. Johnson, from Living Your Unlived Life


hunger for the divine

Most of our neuroses come from hunger for the divine, a hunger that too often we try to fill in the wrong way. We drink alcohol, take drugs, or seek momentary highs through the accumulation of material possessions. All the manipulations of the outer world carry with them an unconscious hope of redeeming our lonely, isolated existence.

Robert A. Johnson

the judgement that begins at the house of God

The policies of people contain within themselves the judgement and doom of God upon their society, and when the Church identifies its policies with theirs, it too is judged with them – for it has in this been unfaithful and is not truly “the Church.” The power of “the Church” (who is not “the Church” if it is rich and powerful) contains the judgement that “begins at the house of God.”
– Thomas Merton – journal entry, November 30, 1964

photo of old church building under cloudy sky

Photo by Harry Smith on Pexels.com

HAVING IT OUT WITH MELANCHOLY by Jane Kenyon

If many remedies are prescribed
for an illness, you may be certain
that the illness has no cure.

A. P. CHEKHOV
The Cherry Orchard

1 FROM THE NURSERY

When I was born, you waited
behind a pile of linen in the nursery,
and when we were alone, you lay down
on top of me, pressing
the bile of desolation into every pore.

And from that day on
everything under the sun and moon
made me sad — even the yellow
wooden beads that slid and spun
along a spindle on my crib.

You taught me to exist without gratitude.
You ruined my manners toward God:
“We’re here simply to wait for death;
the pleasures of earth are overrated.”

I only appeared to belong to my mother,
to live among blocks and cotton undershirts
with snaps; among red tin lunch boxes
and report cards in ugly brown slipcases.
I was already yours — the anti-urge,
the mutilator of souls.

2 BOTTLES

Elavil, Ludiomil, Doxepin,
Norpramin, Prozac, Lithium, Xanax,
Wellbutrin, Parnate, Nardil, Zoloft.
The coated ones smell sweet or have
no smell; the powdery ones smell
like the chemistry lab at school
that made me hold my breath.

3 SUGGESTION FROM A FRIEND

You wouldn’t be so depressed
if you really believed in God.

4 OFTEN

Often I go to bed as soon after dinner
as seems adult
(I mean I try to wait for dark)
in order to push away
from the massive pain in sleep’s
frail wicker coracle.

5 ONCE THERE WAS LIGHT

Once, in my early thirties, I saw
that I was a speck of light in the great
river of light that undulates through time.

I was floating with the whole
human family. We were all colors—those
who are living now, those who have died,
those who are not yet born. For a few

moments I floated, completely calm,
and I no longer hated having to exist.

Like a crow who smells hot blood
you came flying to pull me out
of the glowing stream.
“I’ll hold you up. I never let my dear
ones drown!” After that, I wept for days.

6 IN AND OUT

The dog searches until he finds me
upstairs, lies down with a clatter
of elbows, puts his head on my foot.

Sometimes the sound of his breathing
saves my life — in and out, in
and out; a pause, a long sigh….

7 PARDON

A piece of burned meat
wears my clothes, speaks
in my voice, dispatches obligations
haltingly, or not at all.
It is tired of trying
to be stouthearted, tired
beyond measure.

We move on to the monoamine
oxidase inhibitors. Day and night
I feel as if I had drunk six cups
of coffee, but the pain stops
abruptly. With the wonder
and bitterness of someone pardoned
for a crime she did not commit
I come back to marriage and friends,
to pink fringed hollyhocks; come back
to my desk, books, and chair.

8 CREDO

Pharmaceutical wonders are at work
but I believe only in this moment
of well-being. Unholy ghost,
you are certain to come again.

Coarse, mean, you’ll put your feet
on the coffee table, lean back,
and turn me into someone who can’t
take the trouble to speak; someone
who can’t sleep, or who does nothing
but sleep; can’t read, or call
for an appointment for help.

There is nothing I can do
against your coming.
When I awake, I am still with thee.

9 WOOD THRUSH

High on Nardil and June light
I wake at four,
waiting greedily for the first
note of the wood thrush. Easeful air
presses through the screen
with the wild, complex song
of the bird, and I am overcome

by ordinary contentment.
What hurt me so terribly
all my life until this moment?
How I love the small, swiftly
beating heart of the bird
singing in the great maples;
its bright, unequivocal eye.

Prego – Ingrid Wendt

Ask for something, Per
favore
, please, the answer is
Prego. Please.

Thank you, Grazie, thank you,
you say. Instead of you’re welcome?
Prego. The answer is please.

Prego, listen, here in Italy, every
time you think you’re polite, this lift
of the verbal eyebrow, this rise

and fall of the voice like a hand
on its way to your shoulder, insistent
lifeline picking you up,

letting you go
again. No problem! Prego
pulls up the covers and tucks you in.

Cape of Saint Martin. Communion
wafer on each Italian tongue. Prego.
Please, Prego, I pray to you,

Prego, don’t
worry. Let me
do something for you.

(Photo: Assisi, 2002)
20181122_065927.jpg

see to it that the light within is not darkness

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you. – Luke 11:34-36

sitting in silence until it silences us…

St. Francis passed on many prayers of praise. He went through life finding new things for which to praise God at every turn. Francis is never trying to earn God’s love; he’s celebrating it! Mature prayer always breaks into gratitude & praise. Prayer is sitting in the silence until it silences us, choosing gratitude until we are grateful, praising God until we ourselves are a constant act of praise.
– R. Rohr OFM
Image may contain: 1 person
(image: Piero Casentini; https://www.facebook.com/Piero-Casentini-168766386634134/)

and once the storm is over…

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.
– Haruki Murakami