Oct 4, Pent 19, 2015
The story tells about Brother Juniper one of the earliest followers of Francis. Juniper followed Francis’ ideal of poverty and had the habit of giving to the poor. He often returned to the monastery without sandals or hat or coat. The caretaker of the community property ordered Brother Juniper to give nothing away. When Juniper next went to town and he met a poor man, he told the man, “I have been ordered not to give anything away, but if you take anything, I will not resist.” Juniper returned to the monastery almost naked and happy.
Adultery and Divorce: Some reflections
Adultery has much to do with singleness of heart. If one is tempted, first look at what you are trying to re-capture and from what fear you are in flight. There’s opportunity in these temptations. So let them come. One doesn’t win through them by denial or self-mortification. One uses the temptations to let the deep consciousness know the work that needs to be done. And then they need to be let go, recognized for what they are, which is some imagined relationship without conflict like Dylan’s song: “I want a good woman who’ll do just what I say”, or if you’re a woman, some ideal man. Then let the temptations go for a higher singleness of heart. What do you need to work on? What are those issues that as a couple you need to face? What in yourself needs to be explored, encountered and let go.
Clearly if there is abuse to yourself or to your children, you need to find safety. Jesus’ injunctions about adultery and divorce are in some ways the ironic response to those like me who want wiggle room. And yet at the heart of it all is to do all you can to hang in there. Do the work you need to do to grow into the heart of singleness. Which is to see with the eye of the heart, which is as St Francis de Sales said” where there is no love, put love and you will find love.”
As a divorced and remarried man, I’ve found there is no profit in assessing fault. To be able to love what you loved and be thankful for all that was given and a blessing will be its own door to the heart of the divine. Jesus, I suspect, will be the last one to judge. Perhaps he might ask, “do you remember those dark nights of the soul when the only one you could turn to was me?”
Cypress: Let the little ones come.
In the circle of this blog is a picture of Cypress in my arms as we celebrate the Eucharist. To my right is the new deacon and soon to be priest Susan Taylor, who is here in this two hundred year old Vermont Church as to new priest to be of St John’s in Randolph, VT.
Cypress came to church with her grandparents and was uninvolved with the service. I asked her grand-parents if Cypress would like to come with me and help me at the altar. For the next fifteen minutes she was fully attentive, curious, involved. She remained in my arm as I raised the cup and the bread. At the communion, I asked her if she wanted to return to her grandparents, which she did.
Cypress mother is a Lutheran minister and was on retreat that summer weekend. I thank her for lending her child to me to so perfectly illustrate the meaning of Jesus to let the little children come. Unless I become immersed in the mystery of what is happening around, in and through me, my spiritual leadership is diminished. In such a way children have been among my greatest teachers and inspirations.