Monk In The World

To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, November 16, 2015


(From St. Joseph's Abbey Web Page)

Reading this morning from 
We Are Already One
(Thomas Merton's Message of Hope)
Reflections to Honor His Centenary 

Simeon Leiva-Merikakis, OCSO,
Reflecting on Merton's influence in his  becoming a monk, writes:

"When I finally met Father Louis  briefly in the Gethsemani guesthouse in June, 1968--only six months before his death-I simply wanted to speak to him a heartfelt thank-you in person. He had shown me through his own struggles and choices, shared with me by those writings with their irresistible tone of intimacy, that it was not an inane romantic dream to aspire toward eternal  Beauty even in the midst of a hard-nosed, pragmatic age. He had taught me by his life, more than by his words, how to distance myself from the shallowness and ruthlessness of the world in which I lived.
But above all, he had modeled for me the thrill of humbly bowing the neck of my own conceited ego to the tender persuasion of a faithful Love that does not pass away."
Pg. 133

Saturday, November 7, 2015


For me, God is mostly mystery.
For me, God doesn't "fix" things.
For me, God is simply present.
For me, God is intimacy.
For sure, God is love.

So when my wife had to be called back for a second mammogram this past week, I didn't find myself praying to God and asking that everything would be alright. Of course I was hoping everything was alright but if it was not, I just wanted the peace and wisdom to walk with my wife and be for her whatever it was she needed me to be.

We both believed that whatever was, was.
And if she had breast cancer we were both going to be afraid, sad
and all the other emotions that come with such a diagnosis. 
And then we were going to do our best to walk this journey together.

Why do I say all this?

It was just good to know that
as I sat there in that waiting room by myself for some forty minutes, following my mind to all kinds of scary and crazy places, I never once asked God to fix anything. There was no bargaining with this Mystery.
My life and my wife are no different than all the others who have gone through such ordeals. We are not in some way special.  I stuck with what I truly believed about this great Mystery we call God.

The Mystery is.

Maybe that's enough.

Maybe faith is just trusting the life we have is always infused with that mysterious Presence.
" whom we live and move and have our being."

My wife was fine.

What was, was.
And as she later posted on her facebook page...

simply, "I am thankful!"

So am I babe!
I love you Laurie.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

What Do You Know and What Do You Believe?


Japanese mothers used to try to curb their children’s mischief by saying, “If you aren’t good, a spook will get you,” or “a child snatcher will come for you.” I remember being scolded like that myself as a child. Spirituality based on faith follows a similar model of trying to guide people using certain images and ideas. On the other hand, spirituality based on experience leads people to peace by having them perceive reality clearly, thereby ridding them of fear:

Koun, Yamada (2015-07-14). Zen: The Authentic Gate (Kindle Locations 268-273). Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition. 

Friday, October 2, 2015


"My computer sits in a room at the back of our house, with a view of the garden. I sat there writing yesterday when all of a sudden I heard a scraping, squeaking sound. My gaze shifted to the outside, to the garden. The weather was brilliant. Not the slightest breeze in the air, everything bathed in a soft, clear light. I saw nothing. Another squeak. Then I had to laugh. Above the weathered garden fence I saw the curly head of Antje appear and disappear. She was on the swing, and loving it. Antje is five. She regularly stays over at her grandmother's, who lives next door. Delighted, I keptp looking at my neighbor's little grandaughter. At the eunthusiasm with which she surrendered to the swinging, while her curls danced wildly up and down. She was not contemplating theories or explanations. She was just swinging...I watched this little girl move with her whole being. Without thinking of anything at all Completely at one with her activity. And suddenly I wished for life to be such that we would not grow older than five"

THE TASTE OF SILENCE: how I came to be at home with myself
Bieke Vandkerckhove

Monday, September 7, 2015


May the light of your soul bless your work
with love and warmth of heart. 
May you see in what you do the beauty of your soul. 
May the sacredness of your work bring light and
to those who work with you
and to those who see and receive your work. 
May your work never exhaust you. 
May it release wellsprings of refreshment,
inspiration, and excitement. 
May you never become lost in bland absences. 
May the day never burden. 
May dawn find hope in your heart,
approaching your new day with dreams,
possibilities, and promises. 
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled. 
May you go into the night blessed,
sheltered, and protected. 
May your soul calm, console, and renew you. 
John O’ Donohue

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Lawrence Freeman, in his book Jesus, The Teacher Within, addresses throughout this book the question of Jesus to his disciples:

Who Do You Say I Am?

Early in this reading Freeman remembers some of his own teacher's thoughts (Father John Main) about the importance of "questions" vs "answers" saying:

We have reached the point, John Main believes, where we do not need more answers, instant diagnoses and solutions. We need to relearn how to listen, humbly and profoundly, to the redemptive questions.

Freeman, Lawrence (2011-09-05). Jesus the Teacher Within (Kindle Locations 312-314). Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd. Kindle Edition. 

When is the last time you googled the right question instead of googling the right answer?

What are the redemptive questions for our lives?


Friday, August 28, 2015


The absurdity of certitude is life’s most seriously damaging narcotic. It accuses us of our shallowness and hollows out the soul. Doubt is uncomfortable, yes, but doubt always leads us beyond the present moment to the kind of moments that call us to greater truth, deeper wisdom and a more adult measure of the self.

Chittister, Joan (2015-02-24). Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (p. 154). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.