Tag Archives: spirit


Jesus Eats with Friends by Rick Beerhorst
Jesus Eats with Friends by Rick Beerhorst

The little book that I use for my morning prayer and reflection on the readings of the day has a beautiful (and challenging) reflection by Jean Vanier, part of which I’d like to share here:

The cry of the oppressed, the lonely, and the rejected,
is essentially a cry
for recognition, presence, and communion.
Their cry disturbs,
creates fear,
provokes rejection.
But if they are listened to,
they can also awaken the hearts
of the powerful and the wise,
calling them to change,
to conversion;
calling them not just to organize and do things
with generosity
but to enter into communion with them. …
So it is that the Spirit of Jesus
through all the pain and disturbance
leads us to something new,
a form of chaos
from which is gradually born
a new love
flowing from the heart of God.
~Jean Vanier, 
Jesus The gift of Love

Powerful, isn’t it? Of course, Jean Vanier is the founder of L’Arche so he knows intimately and concretely that of which he writes. And of course the reading was included in the Give Us this Day book today because of our Gospel reading from Luke (14:12-14) where Jesus dines at the home of a Pharisee and challenges him to “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” to his next banquet, those who cannot repay with an invitation in kind.


That is an appropriate word, especially given that this is the first word of the Chapter Call that was affirmed at my religious community’s general Chapter in September.

Disturbed by the Spirit, we recommit ourselves to Jesus’ way of radical hospitality.

We are called to a deeper and wider living of community for mission in company with poor and marginalized people.  Our contemplative discernment pushes us, individually and as Congregation, to action; deeper mutual support enables us to take risks for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

As disciples of Jesus, we respond anew to the call of Mother Clare to be “brave, noble, large-minded and courageous souls.”

We will be living into this Call as a Congregation over the next six years. I’m not sure exactly where it will lead,but I do know that it will challenge us,  and I suspect, awaken our hearts and give us new life and energy as we respond anew to the call to be a community of peace.

God of Surprises

a surprising sunset!
a surprising sunset!

My experience of God is often one of surprise. It seems that when I open my heart, God finds a way in, often catching me off guard. It was so lovely to read this experience described in the words of Pope Francis this weekend at the beatification of Paul VI:

“This is the perennial newness to be discovered each day, and it requires mastering the fear which we often feel at God’s surprises.

God is not afraid of new things! That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways. He renews us: he constantly makes us “new”. A Christian who lives the Gospel is “God’s newness” in the Church and in the world. How much God loves this “newness”! …

Here is where our true strength is found; here is the leaven which makes it grow and the salt which gives flavor to all our efforts to combat the prevalent pessimism which the world proposes to us. Here too is where our hope is found, for when we put our hope in God we are neither fleeing from reality nor seeking an alibi: instead, we are striving to render to God what is God’s. That is why we Christians look to the future, God’s future. It is so that we can live this life to the fullest – with our feet firmly planted on the ground – and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way.”

Truth be told, not only am I surprised by God, I often experience God as a someone with a pretty wicked sense of humor. And sometimes as a trickster too! As in, playful with a good sense of humor and not afraid to call my bluff or play the sneaky Holy Spirit card, calling me to something new before I even know really where I am going.

  • The God of surprises led me back to my Catholic faith, through twists and turns and friends, after a ten years as a strident “ex Catholic.”
  • God playfully led me to discover my passion for peace through justice, even in the midst of some experiences of pain and grief.
  • Another surprising God moment (in an email from my pastor) made me consider that maybe, quite possibly, I had a vocation to religious life
  • And then God surprised me by guiding me to a community of fun, faithful, and fearless women who seek to live peace through justice in their daily lives. God led me “home,” to a community of women I have come to love, despite age gaps, diminismhment, or fears, a place where I can be my best me.
  • And then, God surprised me with a group of religious life age peers across congregations who make me laugh, keep me sane, and make me love my community even more and believe with all my heart in the (surprising) future God has in store for religious life.

These surprises which led me to the corner of Susan and St. Joseph are ones that keeps on giving.  As Pope Francis says, God is continually surprising me, opening my heart and guiding me in unexpected ways. For real … and for that, I am so very grateful!

Taking Flight

Today’s first reading starts with what is perhaps the best line ever. .. “O stupid Galatians.” Followed by a whole lot of, “Don’t you get it?” (Galatians 3:1-5).

Well, no, we don’t really get it, or sometimes it seems. I spent this morning reading and praying with the news of the day. War. Inaction in the face of economic disparity and rampant disease. With a dash of fascination with polite protestors.

Then, if I am honest, I have to ask myself, do I get it? Or should the scripture read, “O stupid Susan”? Sometime my friends, sometimes.

After praying with the news over my cup of tea, I decided to go for a walk to the new-to-me Japanese garden I discovered last week before heading to the library.

I found myself in the company of graceful geese, swimming in the water … and then … taking flight!


And that it seems is the call.  Clear as the call of the geese over head, honking. I remember reading years ago that one image of the Holy Spirit from Celtic spirituality is the honking goose. I usually think of that as the Spirit annoying me into action!

But this morning, I understood it in a different way. The geese I saw this morning,  gently swimming in the pond, knew when it was time to take flight, to be about their purpose. The Spirit is not about staying still in safe calm waters. It is about movement and taking flight.

So is the world a mess? Yes. Can we fix it? Not alone. But maybe, just maybe, inspired and nourished by the love of God we can move forward together, take flight, and see what happens.