"Beholding lies at the heart of the spiritual life. In fact, it is the first step toward contemplation. What is contemplation but the prayerful attentiveness to something — a word in scripture, the blueness of an iris, a movement of one's spirit, the song of a chick-a-dee, the sound of rain tapping on a porch roof. ... The English mystic Evelyn Underhill wrote: 'For lack of attention, a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day.' Setting time aside each day to behold the many forms of loveliness all around us is one of the most important decisions we can make."
When the Rain Speaks

Meeting Face to Face

"I do not know much about working for peace, but I pray every day for those who do. I pray for negotiators of all kinds who devote themselves selflessly to bringing two 'sides' together to talk, thus averting potential wars-from playground squabbles to armed global conflicts. I do not know if peace will ever come to some of the war-torn areas of our world. But if it is ever achieved, this I do know: It will begin with people meeting face to face. It will begin with people looking directly into the eyes of their enemy and seeing not hatred or malice or evil, but seeing a person like themselves — with fears and hopes and triumphs and failures and doubts and dreams — and in that meeting, both sides will experience anew the miracle and mystery they share together called life."
When the Rain Speaks

We Cannot Go it Alone

"As we struggle with our own bad habits and compulsive behaviors, for example, or as we try again and again to be more patient, more honest, more kind, we come to realize this great truth: we cannot go it alone in life. Adversity can make us realize just how much we need God's help — a realization absolutely essential for spiritual growth.

"In summary, then, one sign of a healthy spirituality is our ability to live with adversity, knowing that it is often through our difficulties and pain that we hear God most clearly. As C. S. Lewis said so well, 'God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains."
Traits of a Healthy Spirituality

Diversity in Nature

"Recently I had a vivid experience of the diversity in nature when my father gave me some flower and seed catalogues to look at. One night before crawling into bed, I picked up a forty-page catalog devoted exclusively to tulips. As I slowly leafed through its pages, I was utterly amazed at the variety of tulips I saw. Pictured were red, yellow, and white ones-colors I was familiar with. But then I saw dozens of other colors including light and dark blues, deep purple, bright and pale pinks, orange, and even chartreuse. Some tulips were one color, but others were striped or splashed with several different colors. Some tulips were quite small, while others had blooms over ten inches wide. The catalog gave me a greater appreciation of the incredible diversity in the world of tulips. I remember thinking: if there is so much diversity in this one kind of flower, then how much more diversity is there among all the other species in nature — including Homo Sapiens!"
Traits of a Healthy Spirituality

The Flying Trapeze Artist

"The priest and popular spiritual writer Henri Nouwen was fascinated with the circus. He eventually became friends with the Flying Rodleighs, a troupe of trapeze artists. In their artistry, Nouwen found a number of images for the spiritual life.

"For example, one of the trapeze artists explained that in their act there were flyers and catchers. He told Nouwen that during their performance, the flyer did nothing really. It was the catcher who did all the work. Said the man, 'When I fly to the catcher, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me. The flyer must trust with outstretched arms that his catcher will be there for him.

"Nouwen saw a parallel in the spiritual life. We are the flyer; God is the catcher. Nouwen concluded that our identity and success are not measured by how much we stay in control, but by how much we are able to trust, to let go, and place ourselves into the hands of the Divine Catcher."
By the Way

Dressing Room Mirrors

"The older I get, the less eager I am to try on clothes in those dressing rooms provided by clothing stores. My reluctance comes from several factors.

" First, trying on clothes is an ordeal for me. It wears me out. Second, buying new clothes just doesn't carry the excitement it did when I was younger. And third, I don't particularly like the thought of seeing my nearly naked body reflected back to me in all those mirrors.

"As if one mirror weren't enough, some dressing rooms have mirrors on three sides. They also have bright lights that illuminate every part of your figure. So there's no escaping what your body looks like — unless you undress with your eyes closed. If you're young and/or have an attractive figure, you probably have no idea why these dressing rooms upset me. The rest of you, who are like me — with substantial mileage on your frame and/or some extra pounds — know what I'm talking about. When I see myself in the mirrors, I am sometimes shocked. I find myself asking questions like these: 'When did I get that big stomach? .... How come the skin on my upper arms is sagging like that? It never used to! ... I once had perfect posture. When did I get stooped?'

"When I share my feelings about dressing rooms with women friends, I learn I am not alone. It seems everyone has her dressing room horror story to tell. We listen to each other's tales, we console one another, and we usually end up laughing about the whole thing. There seems to be camaraderie even in this minor misery of life. Thank God!

"God, you know me completely — inside and out — and yet you still love me. Help me to accept my imperfections and the imperfections of others."
By the Way


"Fear is a highly skilled
lurking in the shadows,
stalking in tall grass,
peering intently
for any hint of weakness in us
a limp,
an open wound,

"the slightest hesitation --
always ready to spring,
and take us
Just Because

Standing on the Stage of Life

"Standing on the stage of life,
we play our part
as best we can,
some days bringing down the house,
other times eliciting only boos.
But always
God is there,
standing in the wings,
prompting us,<
urging us on,
and clapping enthusiastically
even when,
beyond the footlights,
silence reigns.
our indispensable audience
of one."
Just Because

What's Wrong with God

"Sometimes I say to God: 'You know what's wrong with you?'

"And God asks, 'What?'

"And I begin to enumerate. 'You love too indiscriminately. You trust people way too much. You are far too forgiving. And you're entirely too patient!'

"Having said that, I invite God to tell me what's wrong with me. But all I hear God say is, 'You know, Honey, I really get a kick out of you!'

"Which only proves my point."
Everyday Epiphanies