Coincidences Are God's Ways Of Getting Our Attention

Whilst tidying up my posts today, I came across this post which I wrote here last year:
"Coincidences are God's way of getting our attention."
So God seems to have found me once again because it seems very relevant to the Scripture readings this week and for this Sunday too, and to the world of events around us. 
What a lovely co-incidence !!
What a Wonderful God too!

 This where the post from last year begins:
"Co-incidences are God's way of getting out attention."

So says Frederick Buechner, and he has cropped up a few times in the last day or so in ways that have caught me as I have grappled with the problems of how to speak on a few issues. ( see previous posts).
Everything here today has found me !!

"The grace of God means something like:

Here is your life. 

You might never have been,
but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you.

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen.

Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. 

It's for you. I created the universe. I love you. There's only one catch.

Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too."
Frederick Buechner 
I was quite taken by this post  I read yesterday from Ron Rolheiser where he says this:

"In a book on preaching, entitled, Telling the Truth, Frederick Buechner challenges all preachers and spiritual writers to speak with "awful honesty" about the human struggle, even inside the context of faith. Don't put an easy sugar-coating on things, he warns:

“Let the preacher tell the truth."

Let him make audible the silence of the news of the world with the sound turned off so that in that silence we can hear the tragic truth of the Gospel which is that the world where God is absent is a dark and echoing emptiness; 

and the comic truth of the Gospel, which is that it is into the depth of this absence that God makes himself present in such unlikely ways and in such unlikely people that old Sarah and Abraham and maybe when the time comes even Pilate and Job ... and you and I laugh till the tears run down our cheeks.

And finally let him preach this overwhelming of tragedy by comedy, of darkness by light, of the ordinary by the extraordinary, as the tale that is too good not to be true because to dismiss it as untrue is to dismiss along with it the catch of the breath, the beat and lifting of the heart near to or even accompanied by tears, which I believe is the deepest intuition of truth that we have.”

Now for a Monastic Tale

Once upon a time there was a monastery, a community of monks
who were committed to a life of prayer and study.
This monastery had fallen on hard times.
In years past, the great buildings had been full of
monks young and old, eagerly serving their God.
The chapel was full of the sounds of the liturgy,
the chanting, the prayers.
People in those days had visited from far and wide
to be nourished by the prayer and the community of those monks.
But the monastery had declined.
There were just a few elderly monks left.

They shuffled through the cloisters,
praying with heavy hearts.
No young men joined the community any more.

Very few people visited for retreats.

 Now, in the woods near this monastery, there was a little hut.

An old rabbi had built that hut.

From time to time, the rabbi would come to the woods and stay.

He would be in that hut for solitude, and peace, and prayer.

The monks had never talked with him much,

but whenever he came, somehow they would know.  

Word would be passed from monk to monk:

"The Rabbi walks in the woods!"

For as long as he was there, the monks would feel

sustained by the rabbi's presence and the rabbi's prayers.
Well, one day, the abbot, the head of the monastic community

decided to visit the rabbi.

He wanted the rabbi's advice.

So one morning after the Eucharist,

the abbot walked to the woods.

He saw that the rabbi was standing in the doorway of his hut.

It was as though he had known that the abbot was coming to visit.

The rabbi welcomed the abbot into the hut

and they had cups of tea together.

And then the rabbi said to the abbot,

"You and your brothers are serving God with heavy hearts.

You have come to open your heart to me.

You are here for my teaching.

I will give you a teaching.

But you must speak it to your brothers once, and only once,

and then it must never be mentioned again."


The rabbi looked deeply into the eyes of the abbot

and said, "The Messiah is among you."

Then the rabbi said, "Now, go back home."

So the abbot thanked the rabbi and returned to the monastery.

He called his monks together.

He said, "I have visited the rabbi in the woods.

He has given me a teaching.
He says it must be spoken once, and only once, 
and then never mentioned again."

The abbot looked at all his brother monks.

He said, "This is what the rabbi told me:

one of us is the Messiah."

The monks were shocked.

"What can this mean?" they thought.

"One of us is the Messiah? Is Brother John the Messiah?

Or Father Andrew? Or Brother Thomas? Am I the Messiah?"
They were very puzzled by this teaching.

But they were good at obedience, so they did not discuss it any more.


As time went on,things changed in that monastery.

The monks began to treat each other with a new respect,

a new reverence.

There was a gentle, wholehearted, compassionate quality about them now, which was hard to describe but easy to see.

They prayed the Scriptures together like they were looking for something very important.

And they lived together like
they had found something very important.
The occasional visitors to the monastery were deeply moved by what they saw in the life of the community.  And word spread, and more and more visitors came.

And young men asked once again to become part of the community.

And the monastery was full of God's praises again.



In later days, the rabbi no longer walked the woods.

His hut slowly fell into ruins.

But the old monks who had taken his teaching to heart

still somehow felt sustained by his presence and by his prayers.

And finally ........


Wendell Berry

The cloud is free only
to go with the wind.
The rain is free
only in falling.
The water is free only
in its gathering together,
in its downward courses,
in its rising into the air.

In law is rest
if you love the law,
if you enter, singing, into it
as water in its descent.

Or song is truest law,
and you must enter singing;
it has no other entrance.
It is the great chorus
of parts. The only outlawry
is in division.

Whatever is singing
is found, awaiting the return
of whatever is lost.

Meet us in the air
over the water,
sing the swallows.
Meet me, meet me,
the redbird sings,
here here here here.

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