By: Ron Lagerquist
Pulling away and getting alone can bring us face to face with the unholy trinity, Fear, Doubt and Guilt. They crouch in wait to occupy the quiet spaces of the day. For many of us, the dirty game is to stay one step ahead, not allowing time enough to hear their oppressive voices whispering in the brain. So we keep it fast and loud. There are people who cannot even go to sleep at night without music blaring, unable to stand silence. Demons live in the silences. . .
Guilt disables spiritual growth and is a deceptive form of self-indulgence, creating an obsessive inward focus. A guilty conscience leads not to repentance but repetitive I’m sorry, not for God’s sake but our own—a desperate attempt to feel better and clear away the dark, sorrowful shroud surrounding the heart. Guilt makes us over-sensitive to others, reading accusation into every word or look, creating paranoia. . .
Greatest of all, guilt separates us from God—naked, hiding behind the bushes of shame. Big, holy God—little, sinful man. . .
They do not die quietly, tentacles reaching into the subterranean rooms of character and will, tainting every motive of the heart. When you begin to face them, there is a risk of pain, especially if you are willing to go deep. It takes courage to go down to the bottom. Who knows what you may find down there? Faces from the past. Forgotten horrors in the root cellar of your soul. When going deep, you are not alone. Jesus, the Master of Grace, is with you, carrying every key to freedom. . .
It’s time to stop running and do business with God. The Promise Land will always inhabit giants, mouthy beasts warring against faith and resolve. They are all talk; the only power their words have is your faith in them.
A Mother’s Love
There are times when only a mother’s love
Can understand our tears,
Can soothe our disappoints
And calm all of our fears.
There are times when only a mother’s love
Can share the joy we feel
When something we’ve dreamed about
Quite suddenly is real.
There are times when only a mother’s faith
Can help us on life’s way
And inspire in us the confidence
We need from day to day.
For a mother’s heart and a mother’s faith
And a mother’s steadfast love
Were fashioned by the angels
And sent from God above.
The Meadow is a culture; a way of doing ministry. It’s a culture that produces joy, love and peace. It is a culture of growth and beauty. It is a culture that brings true freedom!
This quote from Henri Nouwen gives clarity to the culture of Ministry of the Meadow…
“When you are interiorly free you call others to freedom, whether you know it or not. Freedom attracts wherever it appears. A free man or a free woman creates a space where others feel safe and want to dwell. Our world is so full of conditions, demands, requirements, and obligations that we often wonder what is expected of us. But when we meet a truly free person, there are no expectations, only an invitation to reach into ourselves and discover there our own freedom.
Where true inner freedom is, there is God. And where God is, there we want to be.”
For those of us who have had deep loss…
Suffering Can Bring Us to God
The genius of Jesus’ ministry is that he reveals that God uses tragedy, suffering, pain, betrayal, and death itself, not to wound you, but in fact to bring you to God. So there are no dead ends. Everything can be transmuted and everything can be used.
After all, on the cross, God took the worst thing…, the killing of God, and made it into the best thing—the redemption of the world! If you gaze upon the mystery of the cross long enough, your dualistic mind breaks down, and you become slow to call things totally good or totally bad. You realize that God uses the bad for good, and that many people who call themselves good may in fact not be so good. At the cross you learn humility, patience, compassion, and all of the Christian virtues that really matter.
Jesus says, “There’s only one sign I’m going to give you: the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Luke 11:29, Matthew 12:39, 16:4). Sooner or later, life is going to lead you (as it did Jesus) into the belly of the beast, into a place where you can’t fix it, you can’t control it, and you can’t explain it or understand it. That’s where transformation most easily happens. That’s when you’re uniquely in the hands of God. Richard Rohr
In my reading I recently came across this quote from G. K. Chesterton: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” – What’s Wrong with the World, 1910
The Meadow continues to challenge people to try Christ in new and fresh ways and reach deep into His love and find Him in ways they could never imagine!
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve. I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health, that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity, that I might do better things. I asked for riches, that I might be happy. I was given poverty, that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life. I was given life, that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for but got everything I had hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all people, most richly blessed.
(Anon – alleged to have been found on a CSA casualty at the Devil’s Den, Gettysburg)
2nd Half of Life spirituality
Most cultures are first-half-of-life cultures, and even sadder, most organized religion almost necessarily sells a first-half-of-life spirituality. In the first half of life it is all about me. How can I be important? How can I be safe? How can I make money? How can I look attractive? And, in the Christian scenario, how can I think well of myself and go to heaven? How can I be on moral high ground? These are all ego questions. They are not the questions of the soul.
I’m sad to say, I think many Christians have never moved beyond these survival and security questions. Even eternity is securing my future, not even a common future, or a future for humanity; religion becomes a private insurance plan for that future. It’s still all about me, but piously disguised. Any sense of being part of a cosmos, part of a historical sweep, that God is doing something bigger and better than simply saving individual souls (my soul in particular) is largely of no interest. This becomes apparent in the common disinterest of so many when it comes to Earth care, building real community, and peace and justice issues. For many Christians—stuck in the first half of life—all that is important is my private moral superiority and spiritual “safety,” which is somehow supposed to “save” me.
Once God and grace move us to the second half of life, however, religion becomes much more a mystical matter, rather than a mere moral matter. Then it’s all about union and our participation in and with God, while also seeing my actual moral weakness. Indeed, this is the work of true religion, to help us transition from stage to stage, toward ever-deeper union with God and all things. Stay on this journey of ever-deeper and ever-broader union.
Adapted from Loving the Two Halves of Life: The Further Journey. Rohr
by Mary Anne Radmacher
Come to the Mountain Where we stand Above a sea of clouds And Sail High
Come to the Mountain Where we hear The Symphonies of Praise From winged musicians
Come to the Mountain Whose heights is immeasurable In stillness we feel the earth Move beneath our feet Come to the Mountain My friend, where we can Close our eyes and See our dreams
Come to our mountain My sweet friend, where Together-we will speak Of all that we may become
Go near to God to listen
Henri Nouwen on Silence.
We need silence in our lives. We even desire it. But when we enter into silence we encounter a lot of inner noises, often so disturbing that a busy and distracting life seems preferable to a time of silence. Two disturbing “noises” present themselves quickly in our silence: the noise of lust and the noise of anger. Lust reveals …our many unsatisfied needs, anger our many unresolved relationships. But lust and anger are very hard to face.
What are we to do? Jesus says, “Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13). Sacrifice here means “offering up,” “cutting out,” “burning away,” or “killing.” We shouldn’t do that with our lust and anger. It simply won’t work. But we can be merciful toward our own noisy selves and turn these enemies into friends.