Love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. this is he first commandment and the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40.

I had a vision once. What is the root and meaning of life. The answer was one word: Love. Ofcourse I’d been hearing this in a thousand ways in my life. But this was a true awakening for me. It meant like Teilhard de chardan taught “ that the whole creation is infused with love. The atoms are attracted to one another, planets galaxies suns all live in relationship to each other. the sexual impetus draws us at our best toward a tenderness that manifests love. A child at her mother’s breast, a dog looking at me at the altar rail and inviting a blessing and becoming for me the eyes of Christ. Saying. “I am here”.

Jesus refines the whole teaching of the law into three step dance. A waltz, or a Cha cha?

He’s asked by his listeners, “What is the summary of the law? He answers,
First,“Love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. The second is like the first, love your neighbor as yourself.” Love God, love neighbor, love yourself. The church fathers and mothers talked about the Trinity as a dance or a water wheel. The Father/Mother God pours love into the Son, the Christ, and the Christ pours love into the spirit and the spirit flows back to God, round and round. It’s all love.

Now we in the English speaking world only have one word for love. CS Lewis. Who wrote the Narnia series was also a linguist. He wrote that the Greeks have four words for love. Storge: I love ice cream for example is the most basic form of affection. Filia, is brotherly sisterly love, friendship, Eros which is what we most think of when we think of love, passion, sexual, It is also the temptation to stop there. Some of us don’t like to talk about love because it is so identified with the previous three loves. Agape is the highest form of love, It is unconditional, expects nothing in return. Some call it givenness. A total mirroring back of acceptance and forgiveness. The love that endures all things, hopes all things, believes all things. The Love that never ends. Until death and beyond.

Love, which might be called the attraction of all things toward all things, is a universal language and underlying energy that keeps showing itself despite our best efforts to resist it. I’m not going to say that the squirrels and the birds that so enraptured my granddaughter as she looked out our back window that they are not a part of the divine. She so totally in the flow of wonder and discovery, already knows this energy whatever we call it. And we also know resistance and coldness when we feel it. All the rest are mere labels.

I’m remembering how we would gather in the church and relish in the time together. We gathered as a family, a community of friends and to be in communion with the holy. I found so many times that love kept breaking through. Julian saying Amen out loud, how he had to help with the offering and Pam would help him light the candles. His every movement was an invitation to see the divine is right here, present in this small boy. The same with his sisters, Makaela who so beautifully assisted with communion and Audrey who served and sang and played and helped write plays and build sets. With all you who came to serve at the coffee hour, and the altar guild.
And the music, and the lay readers and Eucharistic ministers. And your open-hearted welcoming of strangers and those whose lives were in turmoil.

The Christ was everywhere, in and through us all and flowing and pouring out that divine love into the community. And still is. I truly miss being together with you all. And you know the way to love, you know the flow of divine life and energy and love when you see it. And you know resistance and closed hearts when you see it too.

There is no where in the Christian Scripture where you will find this resistance to love. It flows like an ever flowing stream and waters the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.

Whether physically together or together on Zoom, We are still so blessed.

The following are some notes I didn’t use in the sermon. At the end of this section, you may like to try James Finley’s meditation….

We used to say these words at the beginning of the Eucharist. It was imprinted on each one of us that at the very root of our faith was this absolute trust in the love of God. And that we will find God in all that is, in all times and space, in all beings, in our neighbors and strangers, in times of suffering and in times of joy. In tears and laughter.

And we will find the dwelling of God within us, the beloved of the divine. God doesn’t love us If we change, God loves us so we can change. Says Richard Rohr.

Of course we made even this primary commandment to love into a small God, into ways to exclude others, to discriminate between who is worthy of love. Even ourselves, we treat as if we are certainly unlovable by the divine. I say to myself, “ Now Bob, God can’t really love that about you.” And the answer comes, “I love you, I love you.”

It’s really like a river: We are invited to step into the flow of divine love and grace, let the river flow around and in and through us, even the torrents after a rain storm, to become the flow of love as the current of life moves and propels us. You and I are loved. And the secret is, Love is busting out everywhere, Look into the night sky, or the sunrise or sunset, there is the new day dawning or ending, there is another twenty four hours of reality that we can live in either seeing it what it is. Letting ourselves be in the presence whatever it is with a trust that this day is moving us into love.

James Finley a former priest teaches a meditation that goes like this: “On the in breath God says: “I love you.” On the out breath back to God we say, ‘I love you.” On and on until words fall away and we become the presence of God.

Advent 2019

I am a voice crying in the wilderness. Prepare the way of God.

There is an exercise used in Psychology called “Who are You?’
How often should I forgive? Seventy times seven.

There seem to be certain inflexible laws. Forgiveness is central to Jesus life and example. He reminds his disciples, Peter chief among them, that forgiveness is the key to a life lived fully and in tune with God.

If one hangs on to their egocentricity like the man whose debt was forgiven the first time, he risked the well being of his entire family by refusing to forgive.

There are certain spiritual laws that are always true. Peter learns this as his mind and heart wrestle with the enormity of forgiving endless hurts. And yet Jesus is showing Peter a different kind of forgiveness, Forgiveness is not forgiveness unless it is creative and restorative.

Fritz Kunkel says this: “Peter our spokesperson, has experience of forgiveness. How often Lord, he asks. Jesus looks at him with a strange fire in his eyes. The fathomless ambiguity of this moment still trembles in Mathews words, “ Seventy times seven”. Repeating the same performance forever. Has this ever helped the transgressors? Another joke, but a bitter one. Try it Peter, forgive the same insult seventy times seven. The dullness of your humiliation will paralyze you or ignite your own engine so that you explode with creative fury. Then you will learn the difference between the cringing appeaser and the creative peacemaker. Forgiveness must be creative and if it is there, there is no need for repetition; if it is not, it is not forgiveness at all, it is indulgence.” Creation Continues, Fritz Kunkel.

Corrie ten Boom and her family in Holland hid a number of their Jewish neighbors from the Nazi’s in their home. They were discovered and sent to a concentration camp called Ravensbruk. There her beloved sister died from abuse from the prison guards. After the war, Corrie went on a pilgrimage to teach forgiveness. On one fateful day she was at a speaking tour in Germany when she was approached by a man from the audience. She recognized him as the guard who in part contributed to her sister’s death.

I remember she told the story as if time stood still, all the suffering and turmoil of that time in the camp, watching her sister slowly die of hunger and abuse was captured in that moment.

The man approached her and asked, “Can you forgive me? There was a long pause. Corrie probably shook and asked herself, “Is forgiveness possible for this monster? She looked at him and said. “I forgive you.”

The very act of forgiveness frees the victim and the victimizer.

During this time Corrie went back to Holland and set up safe houses for those who collaborated with the Nazi’s. These people had been refused work and were ostracized by the people. Talk about a creative response that makes forgiveness real and work in the world.

Yet forgiveness given lovingly is not complete until there is restoration. The whole notion of forgiveness it seems, does not end with words but must end with restoration. It’s called restorative justice and it is practiced here in VT. It’s mostly involved in minor cases still, but it is a start where the victim and the victimizer face one another with a mediator, apologize and make restitution.

It isn’t punishment. It’s rather obeying a primary spiritual law, that if it is disobeyed there are consequences. And one of those most to suffer is the victim herself. I know many stories of those who have been physically and emotionally abused by people close to them. In fact there is possibly few of us who have not been abused by someone along the way. And If we carry that hurt and anger, raging at the injustice, it get’s us nowhere. Any more than the kind of psychological wounds that lead to denial and internalized oppression. PTSD. Wounds can heal us and can be the very foundation of any healing ministry such as AA.

Maya Angelou rends the heart as she told of her rape by an uncle as a seven and half year old. For seven years she did not speak. They called her a mute, retarded. But she lost her voice because she told someone who the rapist was. And his the rapist’s body was found kicked to death. She believed as seven year old might that her voice kills. And of course, her voice once she found it, became a cry for justice and forgiveness and restoration for at least three generations.

I met an elderly survivor or the death camp in Auschwitz. He told me he would never forgive. I would not then or ever tell him he must forgive. I heard enough stories of such wickedness that I understand that sometimes their cannot be any restoration that would seen enough justice.

When some women began to speak publicly about their abuse from powerful men, they opened a whole process of confrontation that had been covered up. When women felt powerless to make the established male system listen to them, they organized and raised their voices.

The law of forgiveness seeks restoration. God is forgiveness and God seeks both a change of heart and a transformation of behavior.

Yet. when there is no change on the part of the victimizer, when their is no restoration, is it not more wise to be creative than to be laid waste by our grief. Is it not a waste of too much spiritual and emotional energy to live with resentment and feelings of powerlessness. Is it not the better gift to let as much of the pain, humiliation, and deep rage go. There is much to learn here about our inner life and our connection with the suffering of the world. To see forgiveness as God’s fundamental law for life and the future, empowers us to live more creatively as we confront the brokenness in ourselves and in the world.

There is another story that came from Ravensbruck, where Corrie Ten Boon was tortured by her guards. There was a note by an unknown poet found by the body of a dead child:

O Lord, remember not only the men and women
Of Good will, but also those of ill will.
But do not remember all the suffering they inflicted on us;
Remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to
This suffering—and our comradeship,
Our loyalty, our humility, our courage,
Our generosity, the greatness of heart
Which has grown out of all of this, and when

They come to judgement let all the fruits
Which we have born be their forgiveness.

With a team of two people, one keeps asking the other ‘Who are You?’ Gently over and over until the person who is being asked runs through a long list of ways to describe themselves. We start with identities that we have worked hard to establish: Member of a family, daughter, parent, work identities, student, sexuality. If you stay there long enough, often you come to the end of all roles you play and you are left with one last answer or no answer at all.

I found myself at the edge of a cliff when I did it a while back. The moment was a bit scary. All the layers, roles and sub personalities had been identified. Who are you? Really, who are you? Jean, my wife, told me that when she did the exercise, wrote each role on a piece of paper and at the end she dropped the roles and (what she call sub-personalities) into a waste basket. For John the Baptist and some of would be John the Baptists, we had to let go of being Messiahs or prophets or miracle workers or Jesus before we could get to the heart of who we really are: A voice crying in the wilderness crying out as the song goes the hammer of justice, the bell. Of freedom and the song about. Love between our. Brothers and sisters all over this land. Yet in that moment when there was nothing left on the list it was like I was in space with a lifeline attached to the ship looking in Vastness beyond my little mind. It was falling and hoping something or someone would catch me. I was meditating the other day about how I liked my firebrand 25 year old. The purpose of these processes of letting go seems to be to include them and transcend them. Jean’s put the old identities she no longer needed into the bucket, and she could take them out and find what is useful for understanding who she is and also knows the are riches within that are still to be actualized. lol the answer was for a moment or a lifetime similar to John theBaptist, or the poet Pablo Neruda who wrote: While things are settling down I have left my testament... So whoever goes on reading it Will never take in anything Except the constant moving Of a clear and bewildered man, ...(one rainy and happy, Lively and autumn. I’ll dive into clear air, like a swimmer in the sky, And then get back to growing Till one day I’m so small That the wind will take me away And I won’t know my own name, And I won’t be there when I wake, And I will sing in the silence.

It was an experience akin to that and to John’s declaration: I am a voice in the wilderness, crying out what: That I have been stripped down and naked and ready for the Love of God to find some use for me in this present time. And I sing in the silence. “Entonces cantare ensilencio.

The power of Neruda words became abundantly clear to me as I was reading them before a Spanish speaking congregation in New Jersey. Some of those sitting in the front pews of the little church, began to weep. They prompted me to weep as well, as I frequently weep when I read Neruda’s poetry. I asked Fr. Mehia after the service, “who were those people in the front row who were weeping?” “They are political refugees from the violence in Chile.”he said. Neruda is Chile’s beloved national Poet and a formidable opposition force against the oppression of the then Pinochet regime. “Pinochet was later tried for “crimes against humanity”.

So perhaps we are all “a voice crying in the wilderness”, The wilderness, a vast space of unknowing. Where the ego identities that kept me nice and secure and in control, had been let go, and now there was a new being awakening. And I weep and sing in the silence.

These are hard times, and I left that church with the knowledge that there is far more sorrow in the world than I will ever my self experience if I don’t let go of my armor, my easy self identities. And allow my self to slip behind the page and keep vigil and solidarity with those weeping in the front pew.

What shall I cry, the Psalmist asked. “Behold all flesh is as the grass and the grass withers… and a new day is born. A stripped down , more authentic new being. Now deeply true to the sacred light within, and crying like John and Isaiah:.. The Spirit of God is upon me.

Forgiveness 2020

How often should I forgive? Seventy times seven.

There seem to be certain inflexible laws. Forgiveness is central to Jesus life and example. He reminds his disciples, Peter chief among them, that forgiveness is the key to a life lived fully and in tune with God.

If one hangs on to their egocentricity like the man whose debt was forgiven the first time, he risked the well being of his entire family by refusing to forgive.

There are certain spiritual laws that are always true. Peter learns this as his mind and heart wrestle with the enormity of forgiving endless hurts. And yet Jesus is showing Peter a different kind of forgiveness, Forgiveness is not forgiveness unless it is creative and restorative.

Fritz Kunkel says this: “Peter our spokesperson, has experience of forgiveness. How often Lord, he asks. Jesus looks at him with a strange fire in his eyes. The fathomless ambiguity of this moment still trembles in Mathews words, “ Seventy times seven”. Repeating the same performance forever. Has this ever helped the transgressors? Another joke, but a bitter one. Try it Peter, forgive the same insult seventy times seven. The dullness of your humiliation will paralyze you or ignite your own engine so that you explode with creative fury. Then you will learn the difference between the cringing appeaser and the creative peacemaker. Forgiveness must be creative and if it is there, there is no need for repetition; if it is not, it is not forgiveness at all, it is indulgence.” Creation Continues, Fritz Kunkel.

Corrie ten Boom and her family in Holland hid a number of their Jewish neighbors from the Nazi’s in their home. They were discovered and sent to a concentration camp called Ravensbruk. There her beloved sister died from abuse from the prison guards. After the war, Corrie went on a pilgrimage to teach forgiveness. On one fateful day she was at a speaking tour in Germany when she was approached by a man from the audience. She recognized him as the guard who in part contributed to her sister’s death.

I remember she told the story as if time stood still, all the suffering and turmoil of that time in the camp, watching her sister slowly die of hunger and abuse was captured in that moment.

The man approached her and asked, “Can you forgive me? There was a long pause. Corrie probably shook and asked herself, “Is forgiveness possible for this monster? She looked at him and said. “I forgive you.”

The very act of forgiveness frees the victim and the victimizer.

During this time Corrie went back to Holland and set up safe houses for those who collaborated with the Nazi’s. These people had been refused work and were ostracized by the people. Talk about a creative response that makes forgiveness real and work in the world.

Yet forgiveness given lovingly is not complete until there is restoration. The whole notion of forgiveness it seems, does not end with words but must end with restoration. It’s called restorative justice and it is practiced here in VT. It’s mostly involved in minor cases still, but it is a start where the victim and the victimizer face one another with a mediator, apologize and make restitution.

It isn’t punishment. It’s rather obeying a primary spiritual law, that if it is disobeyed there are consequences. And one of those most to suffer is the victim herself. I know many stories of those who have been physically and emotionally abused by people close to them. In fact there is possibly few of us who have not been abused by someone along the way. And If we carry that hurt and anger, raging at the injustice, it get’s us nowhere. Any more than the kind of psychological wounds that lead to denial and internalized oppression. PTSD. Wounds can heal us and can be the very foundation of any healing ministry such as AA.

Maya Angelou rends the heart as she told of her rape by an uncle as a seven and half year old. For seven years she did not speak. They called her a mute, retarded. But she lost her voice because she told someone who the rapist was. And his the rapist’s body was found kicked to death. She believed as seven year old might that her voice kills. And of course, her voice once she found it, became a cry for justice and forgiveness and restoration for at least three generations.

I met an elderly survivor or the death camp in Auschwitz. He told me he would never forgive. I would not then or ever tell him he must forgive. I heard enough stories of such wickedness that I understand that sometimes their cannot be any restoration that would seen enough justice.

When some women began to speak publicly about their abuse from powerful men, they opened a whole process of confrontation that had been covered up. When women felt powerless to make the established male system listen to them, they organized and raised their voices.

The law of forgiveness seeks restoration. God is forgiveness and God seeks both a change of heart and a transformation of behavior.

Yet. when there is no change on the part of the victimizer, when their is no restoration, is it not more wise to be creative than to be laid waste by our grief. Is it not a waste of too much spiritual and emotional energy to live with resentment and feelings of powerlessness. Is it not the better gift to let as much of the pain, humiliation, and deep rage go. There is much to learn here about our inner life and our connection with the suffering of the world. To see forgiveness as God’s fundamental law for life and the future, empowers us to live more creatively as we confront the brokenness in ourselves and in the world.

There is another story that came from Ravensbruck, where Corrie Ten Boon was tortured by her guards. There was a note by an unknown poet found by the body of a dead child:

O Lord, remember not only the men and women
Of Good will, but also those of ill will.
But do not remember all the suffering they inflicted on us;
Remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to
This suffering—and our comradeship,
Our loyalty, our humility, our courage,
Our generosity, the greatness of heart
Which has grown out of all of this, and when

They come to judgement let all the fruits
Which we have born be their forgiveness.

Ascension/ Sunday 20/05/24

Reflections for Sunday Easter 7. 2020. Ascension

“God loves all things by becoming them.” Richard Rohr

There is a hill that overlooks the City of Jerusalem called the Mt. of Olives. On the hill is a walled garden with Olive Trees and a tower early Christians built to memorialize the spot where Jesus ascended to his Father. In the middle of the floor is a flat stone said to be the place where Jesus foot last touched earth. And it’s believed by some to be the place where Jesus will return again on the final days.

The early Christians didn’t place a roof over the tower. Those who came later put on a roof. To protect the stonework, or to prevent Jesus return, I can’t say. I’m not certain whether God has a special place in the divine heart for the tower or the stone. Yet if it is true that God loves all things by becoming them, then there is a strong possibility that this is a beloved place. And the good and loving intentions and skills of those who built it are graciously received.

Yet, down the hill lay the Garden of Gethsemane. Enclosed in a protected space is an Olive tree and in 1999, it was examined and found to be over two thousand years old. That tree may have been there during the life of Jesus. Jesus may have prayed these words, that to me are some of my all time go too prayers in times of trouble.” Lord let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but thy will be done.

I love that Olive tree and it has so central a significance in the Holy Scriptures. God is in that olive tree.

Note, I didn’t say God is the Olive Tree. Anymore than I’d be foolish enough to say that you or I are God. Instead, I mean that God is in you and me. And God comes to us disguised as our lives. And that the work of the spirit of the divine is to see the sacred in all things. As JD Salinger wrote in his book Franny and Zooey: “ See Christ and you are a Christian, all else is talk”.

The critical part of me says that the tower and the stone are foolishness. The intuitive part says: Hey, wait a minute, Maybe God is right here and I’m not letting my heart open enough to see it.

To further illustrate the point, In Gaya in India is a temple with a stone that contains the footprint of the Hindu God, Vishnu where the great god and protector of the universe first placed his foot on earth. People come from all over the world to pay homage to that stone. And to Vishnu.

And just North of Gaya is Bodhgaya. Bodhgaya is the place where the Buddha was enlightened as he sat under a Bodhi Tree. It’s an amazing place with a Tower and an enclosed place where a descendent of the original Bodhi tree under which the Buddha sat, now thrives in its expansive and twisted wholeness.

God loves all things by becoming them.

God becomes Jesus, Buddha, Vishnu because God loves them. And people recognize the God of Love in them. And so through recognition, paying attention, we come to see the divine, the sacred in all things.

And yet the towers, stones or trees can’t contain the expansive spirit of the divine. These are stepping stones, pointing a finger at the moon, that leads to greater depth.

For the story tellers were unveiling a greater and deeper truth, that the Ascension of Jesus, was the revealing of Christ. The Christ pattern. The birth, the living fully into love. The worlds opposition which can’t stand love, forgiveness, mercy with justice for the poor and the outsider, and seeks to crucify the Good the True and the beautiful. And now the power over the Resurrection over death and brokenness.

And the Ascension leaves the disciples and us in this luminal space where we have to choose or not to choose the divine light the sacred love that has been implanted in us.

We have that power to choose and yet not as much as our individual selves, but rather as our connection, our communion with the love that has been hovering over the creation from the beginning. For Christians we call this love Jesus and now with His Ascension, The Christ. It can be other names. Buddha or Krishna Consciousness, The Now,

God loves all things by becoming them. The world may try to bury love, or make God into their own image of power and control. The dispenser of moral and final judgement.

Won’t we be surprised when all along the divine has reached out to us with arms of love. Placing within each seed, each being, each new day and night with a heart of love, compassion, forgiveness.

These days of the virus for this generation, we are enfolded in the cloak of God’s great love for all things. God comes to us especially in the vulnerability of the poor, the old ones. The virus has no concern for status or power and yet it is the poor, the refugees, the homeless, the overcrowded that it attacks with more consistency.

We in Vermont, or our children who with the ability to quarantine ourselves can really see our privilege. St Teresa of Avila wrote of her eight stages of spiritual growth. At the end of it all, she says, it all comes to this How will I serve love? And as Gandhi said at the end, “What will all this mean for the poor of the earth.” And John, asks: When did we see you hungry and feed you, And God answers, “Whenever you did it to one of the least of these my children’ you did it to me.

It is then that we all shall be one even as Jesus the Christ is one with the the divine outpouring which is the heart of the universe.

For now what shall we choose. Doesn’t seem a return to normal is the best path, The Christ is holding open to us the door to the future. To find and to be love.

Q“God loves all things by becoming them.” Richard Rohr

There is a hill that overlooks the City of Jerusalem called the Mt. of Olives. On the hill is a walled garden with Olive Trees and a tower early Christians built to memorialize the spot where Jesus ascended to his Father. In the middle of the floor is a flat stone said to be the place where Jesus foot last

I will not leave you Orphaned.

Easter 6, 2020

“I will not leave you orphaned. I will come to you.”

I come from a long line of orphans: My great -great grandfather, my grandfather and stepfather were orphans. All but my stepfather had grandmothers who were able to help along the way. But my Dad had no one. He had lost his father when he was eight, his brother five and his sister three or four. His father died of TB, in Boston’s crowded West End. It was the home of immigrants and refugees and Boston’s ancient African American Community.

His mother died of the dreaded TB when he was fourteen.

Whenever I hear these words of Jesus, “I will not leave you orphaned, I will come to you, “ I think of Dad.

I remember toward the end of his life, saying to Dad when I was trying to get him to take me on a tour of the old neighborhood and he would not. His stories of growing up poor in the West End were akin to an urban Huck Finn. But I’d guessed by then that a visit to the old haunts would bring up memories of his mother and her love and her suffering. And also his terror of being alone in the world with no one except his brother and sister Anne.

When I blurted out, “You don’t want to take me because it reminds you of your mother”, it was one of the few times I saw him cry”.

Widows and orphans have a unique perspective. They are alone, or with responsibility for children. My mother was a widow and I suspect I was a half orphan, and yet I somehow knew from the beginning that we were enclosed in a chrysalis of love and compassion. The reading “I will be with you. “ weren’t simply words, but living presence.

Dad had his helpers. We too easily forget that they’re are a whole network of agencies; NGO’s and government, churches and philanthropies that are there to help the poor. The presence of Christ is not only for our private selves and churches. For Dad and his mother, They were St Joseph Roman Catholic Church, The nearby Aid Office, and the Angel Guardian Orphanage where he and his brother spent their years until graduation. As much as I have argued with the Church, I’ve always believed that the Roman Catholic Church had a concern for the welfare of the poor that reflects the meaning of what it means to be a witness to the Christ. It was able to help my Dad’s mother and his brother and sister, find food, clothing and help with shelter in the tenements of the West End. Not enough but there it was. So when I ask, “‘Where is Jesus”, the answer came, “ right there in the homes of those who were threatened and suffering with illness. I will not leave you orphaned,” Jesus says.

Later at the orphanage, Dad met a brother who became his advocate and mentor. He graduated in a cheap blue suit as class valedictorian. …to find himself thrown out into a world where he was smack dab in the middle of the Great Depression. He joined the CCC, a government program that put men to work at the great building projects of our State and Federal Parks. As well as construction of Post office buildings and railroad stations and so many improvements to our common infrastructure.

Then the pacific during WW II in the Philippines.

So I think of dad when I read “I will not leave you orphaned.

I suspect that not only did he marry my mother after the war, but we kind of adopted each other. I will not leave you comfort less I will send the Holy Spirit so that we may be together, the Father in me and Me in you, so that we may be one. I will send you an advocate.

For Dad His sorrow was also the sorrow for his brother and sister. His sister Ann was adopted by Aunt Jo. A single woman and teacher, Dad would take us to visit her during the holidays. Bearing gifts of gratitude that his sister had found a home.

And now in the midst of this uncertainty, there are the loving hearts of so many who care for the sick and the dying and those orphaned parts of us, so in need of an assurance of a love that will not let us go. We orphans on the road, who realize that it’s not all about us, it’s also our connection with the orphaned ones at our gates. And our mission is to find them a home at the heart of our lives. To make sure that the safety nets for the poor do not wither and that our strong helper is kept alive and alert and filled with the love of God so that we may serve the world and all her creatures.

That may be the joy of this present time when we spiritually use this time of quarantine to pray for the orphaned parts of ourselves and still find that we are including in our prayer and action all the rest of us.

Here embraced in the loving arms of Christ, healed, restored, forgiven
and never to be abandoned.

That’s what Jesus has assured us and that’s his blessing on those who give all they can for love of God.

We won’t be orphaned, abandoned, I will always be with you.

We are God’s beloved children.

And so is the other.

As we live into those deep truths, our hearts will learn to burn with divine love for all that is. Especially the orphaned parts.

This poem I memorized from some anonymous 16th Century Spanish poet when I was 19 and was feeling absurdly orphaned . It still seems apt these days:

“Wistful and alone I go pacing the most
. forlorn fields
With slow uncertain steps.

And keep a careful watch for whatever ground bears the human trace.

I know no other guard to shield my face from the visible haunts
And company of men.
For they can study of a joy laid waste and they can see how I burn (yearn)
Within.

Yet I can find no way so worn and bare
That love will not keep coming there
To have speech will me. And I with love.” Hallelujah!