Lord, Thou has made Thyself to me
A living, bright reality,
More present to faith’s vision keen
Than any earthly object seen;
More dear, more intimately nigh
Than e’en the closest earthly tie.

-Charlotte Elliott

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing–to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from”–Psyche in C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces

At some point in their lives, every person should hear someone say to them, “you are beautiful.”-John O’Donohue

Why are we so afraid?

Why do we so commonly teach people to be afraid?

Afraid of bridges. Afraid of spiders. Afraid of the dark.

Afraid of red meat. Afraid of processed foods. Afraid of water from the tap.

Afraid of guns. Afraid of immigrants. Afraid of culture. Afraid of public schools. Afraid of democrats. Afraid of republicans. Afraid of Muslims. Afraid of our neighbors. Afraid of strangers.

Afraid of cancer. Afraid of ebola. Afraid of death. Afraid of life, at least one fully lived.

Afraid of conflict. Afraid of vulnerability. Afraid of truth. Afraid of exposure. Afraid of friendships. Afraid of disappointing people.

Afraid of being unknown. Afraid of being known.

Afraid of being a disappointment to God.

We set up cultures of fear. We lead people to believe that the Christian life is lived upon a tightrope. Blindfolded. One wrong step and…disaster. But that’s not what Jesus said. He said to his best friends, “why are you so afraid?” He invited them, and us, to live lives of love. St. John wrote that we cannot embody love and remain afraid.

Our mission is not fear, but love. We were not called to live life upon a tightrope weaved by the Old Covenant standards and laws of our own making, but to dance in a wide green pasture. We were not called to live with blinders on, but with our eyes wide open to the beauty and wonder of God.

I wish to enter every conversation,
whether in conflict or commonality,
whether with friend or foe,
with an overwhelming peace
grounded in the knowledge
of the steadfast love of God,
remaining present to whatever
the Spirit may bring about.

Life consists of three loves:
Love of God,
Love of self,
Love of others.
If we are to live fully;
If we are to grow toward wholeness;
If we are to feed the hungry hearts of others
Each love must be developed separately
Then carefully and patiently integrated.

-Betty Skinner

You looked with love upon me

and deep within, your eyes imprinted grace;

this mercy set me free,

held in your love’s embrace,

to lift my eyes adoring to your face.

-St. John of the Cross

Memory

We often think of the brain as a warehouse for memory. We imagine that information comes in through our senses, is cataloged, and shelved in the deep recesses of our hippocampus. At some time later, perhaps, the memory may be retrieved and put to use.

But it is more akin to a symphony. It is made not of drab packages containing recollections, but a neuronal harmony recreating the score that we call memory.

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