New Post Fifteenth Sunday Ordinary Time 2012 Take Nothing for The Journey

Scripture readings for Sunday's Mass are here

My previous reflection this week on the "Take Nothing For The Journey"  theme is here , which dealt with a literal journey,  following a map to a physical destination as I will be doing tomorrow. 

My next post won't be until Monday or Tuesday so here are a few extra reflections for Sunday.

Various Reflections from St Louis University Liturgy Centre  are here.

 Find a crackingly good one here from Fr. Ron Rolheiser, titled  "Our Inability To Cast Out Demons."

It homes in on this phrase from the Gospel :

"So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them."


Anointing with Holy Oils

Some Reflections for 2012

Many gospel stories are an invitation to look deeper after the initial literal story.
I'm rushing this to get it posted before I leave early tomorrow morning, so it's not going to be polished but hopefully you will get the drift.:-))

Some years back when I was ready to leave the security of work and home and head off to East Africa to work I bought a book by an author called Donagh O'Shea OP, called Take Nothing for The Journey, subtitled Meditations on Time and Place.

After 10 years in a busy retreat centre in Cork, the priest was weary from overwork and was afforded as he puts it : the luxury or the necessity of a sabbatical year. He chose to spend the first 3 months living in a tent in different parts of Ireland that held special significance for him. It is a wonderful book. 

At the end of his travels he returns home for the first Sunday of Advent and he says this is a good time for beginnings and endings."The Liturgy conveys a sense of an old world ending and a new world beginning.

An end that was only an end would be annihilation : you believe in the Lord of Life and the end can never be the end..."

He says " The soul must go out; it must travel away from itself, above itself." But it must never leave the centre; indeed it cannot leave- because every place in the world is the centre, every moment a sacrament of eternity.

In the heart of every man and woman you meet you will reach out to the centre of creation and touch eternity- if you do not waver from your emptiness.

For your house is the last before infinity, whoever you are."

Image by AntonTang from here

When I was in my twenties I decided to explore my Irish roots and instead of 
choosing the renowned 110 mile Ring of Kerry (Ring of Beara), I took (what was then), a less travelled route and stayed in the Dingle Peninsula

One of the most breathtakingly beautiful places there is the long stretch of beach called Inch.

At the side of the beach is a sign that reads "Dear Inch, must I leave you, I have promises to keep and many miles to travel before my final sleep." 

 Image source

That sign made a deep impression on me. Indeed within one year I did indeed  move to Cornwall and then again after another few years to a job in Malawi, East Africa and then eventually back to Cornwall.

It is a paraphrase from the last stanza of  Robert Frost's poem Stopping By Woods on A Snowy Evening.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep

Some other quotes, this time from the author Donald Miller, also have meaning for me.

Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home
 and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.” — Donald Miller

“It is always the simple things that change our lives. 
And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. 

Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. 
You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. 
This is how God does things” — Donald Miller

Now I am older and retired and lucky to be able to slow down I realise how meaningful those words of Donald Miller are.

                                                                          Image source


Whoever you are, go out into the evening,
leaving your room, of which you know each bit;
your house is the last before the infinite,
whoever you are.
Then with your eyes that wearily
scarce lift themselves from the worn-out door-stone
slowly you raise a shadowy black tree
and fix it on the sky: slender, alone.
And you have made the world (and it shall grow
and ripen as a word, unspoken, still).
When you have grasped its meaning with your will,
then tenderly your eyes will let it go.

Rainer Maria Rilke 

Summer Morning

I implore you,
it’s time to come back
from the dark,
it’s morning,
the hills are pink
and the roses
whatever they felt
in the valley of night
are opening now
their soft dresses,
their leaves
are shining.
Why are you laggard?
Sure you have seen this
a thousand times,
which isn’t half enough.
Let the world
have its way with you,
luminous as it is
with mystery
and pain—
graced as it is

with the ordinary.


 To the Holy Spirit

O Thou, far off and here, whole and broken,
Who in necessity and in bounty wait,
Whose truth is light and dark, mute though spoken
By Thy wide grace show me Thy narrow gate.

Wendell Berry 

Images of disciples "de dos en dos" above and below from here

Previous Reflections from 2011 are here.

 I have added a few extra reflections this year to go with the poem by Naomi Shihab Nye at the bottom of this post.  (The poem is also in my 2011 post.)

When I read this gospel I wonder about the fuel behind the disciples mission. It strikes me that there must have come a pivotal moment when Christ knew they were ready to go out on their journey to spread his message and to heal.
They had witnessed first hand the compassion and kindness of Christ in action, through His words, yes, through His miracles yes, but by something else less tangible but even more compelling- His ability to be totally present to others.
The poem by Naomi Shihab Nye speaks about kindness which certainly resonates with a Franciscan heart. I have chosen it because I think it encapsulates what our churches should be : places where the quality of presence allows kindness to be expressed as a priority, not always the more obvious "do gooder" type of activity often associated with the type of welcome to parish life that can be massively cloying, claustrophobic and intrusive.

 The poem tells a salutary tale of where the deep quality of kindness has to come from before it rings true.

Mission without kindness has no meaning and mission has to operate from a deep personal knowledge or empathy of what it means to be human these days and the recognition that life for many is a struggle.

“Life is complex and the idea that you can break it down or fix it in a few steps is rather silly. The truth is there are a million steps, and we don’t even know what the steps are, and worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or even able to take them; and still worse, they are different for you and me and they are always changing.

Image source

"I have come to believe the sooner we find this truth beautiful, the sooner we will fall in love with the God who keeps shaking things up, keeps changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us not to rely on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras, or genies in lamps, but rather His guidance, His existence, His mercy, His love.”
-Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What

Too many people in our churches seem only interested in others for gossip sake or to try and size people up for a potential role.There is also a type of helper often seen in churches who fosters a type of co-dependency or worse still, who feeds off others to boost their own importance and self esteem.

 Some priests can be too over eager to enlist people in some worthy cause before they even understand anything about that person and what makes them tick.

When the disciples arrived at their destination the people who received them would have known something of the hardships they had encountered on the way; but maybe people who welcomed them were able to also see something deeper; to the fact that they had given up everything to follow Christ and had a resolve to spread His message wherever they could, in spite of the ridicule, rejection and persecution  
that would inevitably follow. 

But also, maybe some people were able to decipher their receptivity and sensitivity to the less visible but enormously influential hardships that people can meet on their life journey and that type of care needs to be nurtured in our churches.

Kindness isn't trying to exhort people to think positive, or the usual glib cliche of counting our blessings, because someone else has it harder. 

This pithy quotation comes from the foreward of a book called The Laughter of God: At Ease With Prayer by Sister Miriam Pollard
"Anguish is not healed by crushing its victim under the weight of every truth you know.  It is healed, or at least assuaged, by listening, by time and acceptance, and often by giving to the other the sense that you also have lived without answers."
The quality of making yourself available, to be with someone to allow them space and time entails a necessary distance ; an approaching without approaching quality that enables trust to slowly develop. 

That is something that takes great skill and time and yet it is also something that is easy to spot when a person enters a church or a community. 

It is a pervasive quality of Christ's presence in another that will attract people to church, 

something that is radiated and felt not always in words, 

or even in acts but more often just in the simple act of being with another and showing compassion.

Of course, it follows on that true compassion is a force that will then lead to action. 

If it doesn't, it is a "cheap grace", the kind of which Bonhoeffer identified and described so well.

Image source

It has a touch as light as a feather and as deep as an ocean.

Image source Linda Wright here

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. "

  Henri Nouwen from Out of Solitude

I believe the fuel that enables all of us to take nothing else for the journey is something we can ask to be filled with every day. The paradox is that the fuel is always given to us freely by God and is in endless supply.
It is something we cannot even earn but it may cost us something  - our own ego and self will.


Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a  moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your  hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of  kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never  stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he  too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and  the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness  as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to  it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see  the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense  anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out  into the day to mail letters and

purchase bread,

only kindness  that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

it is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words

Meanwhile, here's wishing everyone 
God's rich blessings and love for the weekend................

and a little music ....................


Set us free, take us away
 Face of love, tear us away
 'Cause we are Yours to carry away
 We’re carried away We’re carried away
 Life is a current 
Pulling us out to the sea where we can’t see 
And danger waits for us 
Preying on those who hold closely and tightly
 Love, say that you won’t let go 
Let’s take heed and go far away
 Heart of love, tear us away 
'Cause we are Yours to carry away
 We’re carried away 
We’re carried away Love,
 say that it will be so Love,
 say that you won’t let go
 Don’t let go, Don’t let me go.

 Image source

 Image source

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