Archive for November, 2014

God’s loving arms

One day I was biking along a trail near my home. I stopped for a moment to rest on the bridge that overlooked a small waterfall. On one side of the bridge the current moved lazily, the quiet waters trickling over sand and pebbles. But just underneath the bridge, the stream began swirling over sharp stones. Just a few feet further, the once-peaceful waters thrashed over a cliff and plunged into a soft pool. The water was a mirror of my life. Though I had swirled and crashed through many hardships, I had always landed in a soft place: God’s loving arms.

— Nancy Jo Sullivan, 2015 A Book of Grace-Filled Days, p. 227


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Just ask

I have a friend who never prays for what she wants, only for what she needs. I feel a little insecure around her because I often ask God for small favors. Just today I prayed that the weeds in my garden would stop taking over my flowers. I also asked that my sister Annie would come for a visit. I prayed for a new rug for my living room too. I don’t need any of these things. If I didn’t receive them, I wouldn’t lose faith. But over the years, I’ve learned that God provides for our daily needs but also delights in giving us abundant gifts.

— Nancy Jo Sullivan, 2015 A Book of Grace-Filled Days, p. 200

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Bless their hearts

There’s an apartment building that overlooks a busy intersection near my home. Sometimes, when I’m waiting in my car at the stoplight, I’ll turn my glance toward a third-floor window. Most of the time, I’ll see an older woman looking down at the cars and people that pass by. “Bless her heart,” I pray. There’s a part o me that feels sorry for her. I wonder if she’s lost everyone she’s loved. But then again, maybe she is looking down on the world as God does. Perhaps she is pondering the busyness of our lives and wishing more for us. Maybe she is praying, “Bless their hearts.”

— Nancy Jo Sullivan, A Book of Grace-Filled Days, p. 362

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Crazy love

The American naturalist John Muir once took up residence inside a tree. He said he wanted to experience the tree. is this craziness or is it love? Perhaps we can say it is a little of both: crazy love. This is one definition of love: to be so intertwined with and in tune with another that we intuit the other’s wholeness.

— Michael Bever, in The Art of Pausing, p. 143

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God, the Loving

Crazy lovemaking

Green pastures beckon all day

Cloudless skies embrace

— Michael Bever, in The Art of Pausing, p. 142

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God, the Sublime

All was silent ’til

dove sang morning homage to

sun at earth’s far rim

— Brother Paul Quenon, OCSO, in The Art of Pausing, p. 48

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One night

Recently I sat in a little chapel filled with one hundred boys upon whom unimaginable crimes and sins had been committed, boys who had endured and survived more species of pain and desolation than I could account in a year, boys who had been married to sadness for years, boys who were thrashing all day every day toward some kind of shivering peace and rebirth, and every one of these boys was bouncing his feet, or nodding his head, or grinning widely, or snapping his fingers, because there was a university alumnus standing where the altar usually is, and he was singing and roaring, and banging away beautifully on his enormous guitar, and the wild deft musicians behind him were making a muscle of music so joyous and fast and captivating that you just could not sit still, no matter how cool you wanted to seem, or how deep inside yourself you crouched as protection against rage and pain and fire, and the boy in front of me was rocking and bouncing like he was about to launch into space, and then he burst into tears, and he cried for the rest of the hour, although he never stopped rocking and bouncing for an instant. I watched his tears slide down his face into his suit jacket, which was hairy and too small for him, and I wondered how many tears had been wept into that jacket, but there is no way to tell.

At the end of the concert, when the band had finished with an incredible flourish and it was okay for everyone to jump up and yell, the boy shot out of his chair and jumped up and down laughing until finally he and everyone else settled down to a dull roar and began to file out of the pews. Then every single boy in the chapel went up to the members of the band and shook their hands and said thank you, sir, and then they lined up in barrack order and walked out of the chapel rustling and humming.

I saw this. I was there. I’ll never forget that boy. Something hit his heart right amidships, right in the place where joy and hope were down to their last lost grains, and it was a man from and of and about this university who delivered that thrilling blow, and I saw it delivered, and I saw it land. That’s what universities are for, hitting kids in the heart. It happens all the time. It happens in a zillion ways. I saw one way, one night, and I’ll never forget it.

— Brian Doyle, Grace Notes, p. 88

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