Our Blessings Come Quietly

“The contradictions of life are not accidental. Nor do they result from inept living. They are inherent in human nature and in the circumstances that surround our lives. We are, as the Psalmist says, “little less than God” but also “like the bests that perish” (Psalms 8:5; 49:12). Our highest insights and aspirations fail because we are encumbered by flesh that is too weak–or too strong. When we rise to soar on the wings of spirit, we discover weights of need and greed tied to our feet. The things we seek consciously and with effort tend to evade us, while our blessings come quietly and unbidden. When we achieve what we most want, our pleasure in it often fades.”

–Parker Palmer, The Promise of Paradox

Life’s Hidden Wholeness

“Spiritual truth often seems self-contradictory when judged by conventional logic. Where logic wants to separate and divide, the seeker looks for what Thomas Merton called life’s “hidden wholeness,” the underlying unity of all things. Logic assumes that whatever violates the rules of rationality cannot possibly be true. Spirituality assumes that the deeper our questions go, the less useful those rules become. The spiritual life, whose territory is the nonrational, not the irrational-proceeds with a trembling confidence that God’s truth is too large for the simplicity either-or. It can be apprehended only by the complexity of both-and.”

— Parker Palmer, The Promise of Paradox

The Primary Locus of the Sacred

Nature itself is the primary Bible; the world as is the primary locus of the sacred.

Notice that Paul is not saying that Revelation started when the Bible was written. No, revelation started at the moment of creation, what we now call the Big Bang; and the primary Bible is reality, what is! The written Bible has only existed in a nanosecond of human history.

Do you really think God had nothing to say until the last nanosecond—that God was completely quiet until we wrote the Bible? And we did. I’m not saying that it isn’t inspired, but we wrote it, so we are more at home with something we wrote.

We are given in creation, a natural way to reconnect with God every day. And it doesn’t depend on getting a degree in philosophy or theology. It depends on really being present!

— Richard Rohr

When Belief Has Begun to Slip


“There’s a symptom apparent in America right now. It’s evident in political talk shows, in entertainment coverage, in artistic criticism of every kind, in religious discussion…

We are living in a culture of extreme advocacy, of confrontation, of judgment and of verdict. Discussion has given way to debate. Communication has become a contest of wills. Public talking has become obnoxious and insincere. Why? Maybe it’s because, deep down under the chatter, we have come to a place where we know that we don’t know … anything. But nobody’s willing to say that…

What is Doubt? Each of us is like a planet. There’s the crust, which seems eternal. We are confident about who we are. If you ask, we can readily describe our current state. I know my answers to so many questions, as do you. What was your father like? Do you believe in God? Who’s your best friend? What do you want? Your answers are your current topography, seemingly permanent, but deceptively so. Because under that face of easy response, there is another You. And this wordless Being moves just as the instant moves; it presses upward without explanation, fluid and wordless, until the resisting consciousness has no choice but to give way.

It is Doubt, so often experienced initially as weakness, that changes things. When a man feels unsteady, when he falters, when hard-won knowledge evaporates before his eyes, he’s on the verge of growth. The subtle or violent reconciliation of the outer person and the inner core often seems at first like a mistake. Like you’ve gone the wrong way and you’re lost. But this is just emotion longing for the familiar. Life happens when the tectonic power of your speechless soul breaks through the dead habits of the mind. Doubt is nothing less than an opportunity to reenter the Present…

There is an uneasy time when belief has begun to slip, but hypocrisy has yet to take hold, when the consciousness is disturbed but not yet altered. It is the most dangerous, important and ongoing experience of life. The beginning of change is the moment of Doubt. It is that crucial moment when I renew my humanity or become a lie.

Doubt requires more courage than conviction does, and more energy; because conviction is a resting place and doubt is infinite; it is a passionate exercise. You may come out of my play uncertain. You may want to be sure. Look down on that feeling. We’ve got to learn to live with a full measure of uncertainty. There is no last word. That’s the silence under the chatter of our time.”

— John Patrick Shanley in an introduction to his play, Doubt.

(HT: Experimental Theology)

The Gift and the Giver


What does not come into man’s imagination is called a “gift” because whatever passes through his imagination is in proportion to his aspiration and his worth. However, God’s gift is in proportion to God’s worth Therefore, the gift is that which is suitable to God, not what is suitable to the imagination or ambition of God’s servant. “What no eye has seen nor ear heard nor has occurred to the mind of man”– that is, no matter how much eyes have seen, ears heard, or minds conceived the gifts you expect of Me, My gift is above and beyond all that.”

– Rumi