* This Sunday, December 8, we invite you to join us at 4pm as we celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe and lighting of the Advent wreath.

Dear Holy Ones of The Spirit of Life, 

Darkness is an Advent theme we are drawn to these days.  In these Advent days, pondering the darkness has a lot to teach us.   Some of you may receive Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations on-line.  This week he has been meditating on darkness and light—yin and yang—with Joan Chittister and Diana Hayes.  We share with you some highlights of their contemplation:

Joan Chittister:

Simple as it may seem, when the lights go out, we simply lose our bearings. The density of the dark makes it impossible for us to fix our positions anymore. We find ourselves alone in the universe, untethered and unprepared. . . . Lightlessness leaves us no internal compass by which to trace or set our steps. Unlike [the] blind, few [sighted people] ever learn to develop our other senses enough to rely on them for information about the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Interestingly enough, it is those who consider themselves sighted who are most limited without light. And so, in the end, the [dimness] undermines the average [sighted] person’s self-confidence, affects their vision, leaves them totally vulnerable to the environment and out of touch with the people around them. And that is only its physical effects.

The darkness of the soul is no less spiritually punishing than is the loss of physical light to the psyche. We talk about faith but cannot really tolerate the thought of it. It’s light we want, not shadow, certainty not questions. The aphotic, the place without images, is no less an attack on faith and hope than those periods in life when nighttime brings nothing but unclarity, nothing but fear. Where am I going? the soul wants to know. When will this be over? the mind wants to know. How can I get out of this sightless place I’m in? the heart demands.

There is a light in us that only darkness itself can illuminate. It is the glowing calm that comes over us when we finally surrender to the ultimate truth of creation: that there is a God and we are not it. . . . Then the clarity of it all is startling. Life is not about us; we are about the project of finding Life. At that moment, spiritual vision illuminates all the rest of life. And it is that light that shines in darkness.  Only the experience of our own darkness gives us the light we need to be of help to others whose journey into the dark spots of life is only just beginning. It’s then that our own taste of darkness qualifies us to be an illuminating part of the human expedition. Without that, we are only words, only false witnesses to the truth of what it means to be pressed to the ground and rise again.

The light we gain in darkness is the awareness that, however bleak the place of darkness was for us, we did not die there. We know now that life begins again on the other side of the darkness. Another life. A new life. After the death, the loss, the rejection, the failure, life does go on. Differently, but on. Having been sunk into the cold night of .. despair—and having survived it—we rise to new light, calm and clear and confident that what will be, will be enough for us.                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                    Joan Chittister, Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (Image: 2015), 19-20.

Diana Hayes:

Reality for blacks in the United States has always been one of seeming paradox. “Trouble” always seems to be in our way, regardless of the form it takes, from forced migration, slavery, second-class citizenship, to the constant enervating struggle with proponents of racism and the lack of opportunity for education, decent health care, and a life of dignity and happiness. Yet, through it all . . . we have been a people with our eyes “fixed” on God, a people for whom “trouble don’t last always.” . . . Paradoxically, it was those quiet times which always gave me the strength to go back out into the world again. God has always seemed to come to me in days of pain-filled darkness and disillusionment, to hold my hand, to counsel me, to prepare me to go forth renewed in spirit and body. . . .

 

I believe I have learned, because of my own struggles, how to see, hear, and feel the struggles of others, voiced and unvoiced.                                                                                                               

— Diana L. Hayes, No Crystal Stair: Womanist Spirituality (Orbis Books: 2016), 38, 39, 42, 43, 44.

Richard Rohr:

…But there’s another darkness that we’re led into by God, grace, and the nature of life itself. In many ways, the loss of meaning, motivation, purpose, and direction might feel even greater here. Some call it “the dark night of the soul.” Yet even while we feel alone and that God has abandoned us, we can also sense that we have been led here intentionally. We know we are in “liminal space,” betwixt and between, on the threshold—and we have to stay here until we have learned something essential. It is still no fun and filled with doubt and “demons” of every sort. But it is the darkness of being held closely by God without our awareness. This is where transformation happens.

Regardless of the cause, the dark night is an opportunity to look for and find God—in new forms and ways. Neither God nor goodness exist only in the light but permeate all places, seen and unseen. It seems we have to “unknow” a bit every time we want to know in a new way. It is like putting your car in reverse in the mud and snow so that you can gain a new track and better traction.

I believe that even when we or someone we love does die, life has not ended; it is merely transformed. It takes great humility to admit we have suffered through this kind of darkness, because it often sounds like a loss of faith to those who have not endured it. But when everything we thought we knew has turned to “nada,” in the language of John of the Cross, we actually become more loving and compassionate human beings, for we no longer rely on our own light but upon the Light of the world living within us.

The darkness of this world will never totally go away. I’ve lived long enough and offered spiritual direction enough to know that darkness isn’t going to disappear, but that, as John’s Gospel says, “the light shines on inside of the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it” (1:5). This is our own belief in paradox and mystery, the Christian form of yin/yang. 

We must all hope and work to eliminate suffering, especially in many of the great social issues of our time. We work to eliminate world hunger. We strive to stop wasting the earth’s resources. We peacefully fight to end violence. We don’t ignore or capitulate to suffering, yet we must allow it to transform us and the world. Suffering often shapes and teaches us and precedes most significant resurrections.

People who live with faith in the midst of darkness never stop growing, are not easily defeated, are wise and compassionate, and frankly, are fun to live with. They have a quiet and confident joy.

            Adapted from Richard Rohr with John Feister, Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety (St. Anthony Messenger Press: 2001), 165-166.

At The Spirit of Life, we work together in prayer and companionship to loosen the attitudes and brokenness which can hold us bound.  We believe that God’s desire for us is that we be “Whole” and thus “Holy”… full of life , unfettered by life-destroying prejudices and free to move openly as the Spirit calls us.  Our belief in the sacredness of all created beings and loving relationships compels us to respond with care and compassion to all who are marginalized in our church and world.  We invite you to come and to pray with us as we “do our own work” in growing into a deeper awareness of our own gifts and ‘growing edges’ and together create a community that invites diversity and honors the uniqueness of each individual and every journey.  We are confident that you will feel welcome in the “home” of The Spirit of Life. 

In the darkness and in the light, in the yin and yang of life, we are with you and you are with each other.  Beaming out our love to you and prayers for warm, winter Advent Blessings,

Ron & Jean

This Sunday, December 8, we invite you to join us at 4pm as we celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe and lighting of the Advent wreath.

Dear Holy Ones of The Spirit of Life, 

Darkness is an Advent theme we are drawn to these days.  In these Advent days, pondering the darkness has a lot to teach us.   Some of you may receive Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations on-line.  This week he has been meditating on darkness and light—yin and yang—with Joan Chittister and Diana Hayes.  We share with you some highlights of their contemplation:

Joan Chittister:

Simple as it may seem, when the lights go out, we simply lose our bearings. The density of the dark makes it impossible for us to fix our positions anymore. We find ourselves alone in the universe, untethered and unprepared. . . . Lightlessness leaves us no internal compass by which to trace or set our steps. Unlike [the] blind, few [sighted people] ever learn to develop our other senses enough to rely on them for information about the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Interestingly enough, it is those who consider themselves sighted who are most limited without light. And so, in the end, the [dimness] undermines the average [sighted] person’s self-confidence, affects their vision, leaves them totally vulnerable to the environment and out of touch with the people around them. And that is only its physical effects.

The darkness of the soul is no less spiritually punishing than is the loss of physical light to the psyche. We talk about faith but cannot really tolerate the thought of it. It’s light we want, not shadow, certainty not questions. The aphotic, the place without images, is no less an attack on faith and hope than those periods in life when nighttime brings nothing but unclarity, nothing but fear. Where am I going? the soul wants to know. When will this be over? the mind wants to know. How can I get out of this sightless place I’m in? the heart demands.

There is a light in us that only darkness itself can illuminate. It is the glowing calm that comes over us when we finally surrender to the ultimate truth of creation: that there is a God and we are not it. . . . Then the clarity of it all is startling. Life is not about us; we are about the project of finding Life. At that moment, spiritual vision illuminates all the rest of life. And it is that light that shines in darkness.  Only the experience of our own darkness gives us the light we need to be of help to others whose journey into the dark spots of life is only just beginning. It’s then that our own taste of darkness qualifies us to be an illuminating part of the human expedition. Without that, we are only words, only false witnesses to the truth of what it means to be pressed to the ground and rise again.

The light we gain in darkness is the awareness that, however bleak the place of darkness was for us, we did not die there. We know now that life begins again on the other side of the darkness. Another life. A new life. After the death, the loss, the rejection, the failure, life does go on. Differently, but on. Having been sunk into the cold night of .. despair—and having survived it—we rise to new light, calm and clear and confident that what will be, will be enough for us.                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                    Joan Chittister, Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (Image: 2015), 19-20.

Diana Hayes:

Reality for blacks in the United States has always been one of seeming paradox. “Trouble” always seems to be in our way, regardless of the form it takes, from forced migration, slavery, second-class citizenship, to the constant enervating struggle with proponents of racism and the lack of opportunity for education, decent health care, and a life of dignity and happiness. Yet, through it all . . . we have been a people with our eyes “fixed” on God, a people for whom “trouble don’t last always.” . . . Paradoxically, it was those quiet times which always gave me the strength to go back out into the world again. God has always seemed to come to me in days of pain-filled darkness and disillusionment, to hold my hand, to counsel me, to prepare me to go forth renewed in spirit and body. . . .

 

I believe I have learned, because of my own struggles, how to see, hear, and feel the struggles of others, voiced and unvoiced.                                                                                                               

— Diana L. Hayes, No Crystal Stair: Womanist Spirituality (Orbis Books: 2016), 38, 39, 42, 43, 44.

Richard Rohr:

…But there’s another darkness that we’re led into by God, grace, and the nature of life itself. In many ways, the loss of meaning, motivation, purpose, and direction might feel even greater here. Some call it “the dark night of the soul.” Yet even while we feel alone and that God has abandoned us, we can also sense that we have been led here intentionally. We know we are in “liminal space,” betwixt and between, on the threshold—and we have to stay here until we have learned something essential. It is still no fun and filled with doubt and “demons” of every sort. But it is the darkness of being held closely by God without our awareness. This is where transformation happens.

Regardless of the cause, the dark night is an opportunity to look for and find God—in new forms and ways. Neither God nor goodness exist only in the light but permeate all places, seen and unseen. It seems we have to “unknow” a bit every time we want to know in a new way. It is like putting your car in reverse in the mud and snow so that you can gain a new track and better traction.

I believe that even when we or someone we love does die, life has not ended; it is merely transformed. It takes great humility to admit we have suffered through this kind of darkness, because it often sounds like a loss of faith to those who have not endured it. But when everything we thought we knew has turned to “nada,” in the language of John of the Cross, we actually become more loving and compassionate human beings, for we no longer rely on our own light but upon the Light of the world living within us.

The darkness of this world will never totally go away. I’ve lived long enough and offered spiritual direction enough to know that darkness isn’t going to disappear, but that, as John’s Gospel says, “the light shines on inside of the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it” (1:5). This is our own belief in paradox and mystery, the Christian form of yin/yang. 

We must all hope and work to eliminate suffering, especially in many of the great social issues of our time. We work to eliminate world hunger. We strive to stop wasting the earth’s resources. We peacefully fight to end violence. We don’t ignore or capitulate to suffering, yet we must allow it to transform us and the world. Suffering often shapes and teaches us and precedes most significant resurrections.

People who live with faith in the midst of darkness never stop growing, are not easily defeated, are wise and compassionate, and frankly, are fun to live with. They have a quiet and confident joy.

            Adapted from Richard Rohr with John Feister, Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety (St. Anthony Messenger Press: 2001), 165-166.

At The Spirit of Life, we work together in prayer and companionship to loosen the attitudes and brokenness which can hold us bound.  We believe that God’s desire for us is that we be “Whole” and thus “Holy”… full of life , unfettered by life-destroying prejudices and free to move openly as the Spirit calls us.  Our belief in the sacredness of all created beings and loving relationships compels us to respond with care and compassion to all who are marginalized in our church and world.  We invite you to come and to pray with us as we “do our own work” in growing into a deeper awareness of our own gifts and ‘growing edges’ and together create a community that invites diversity and honors the uniqueness of each individual and every journey.  We are confident that you will feel welcome in the “home” of The Spirit of Life. 

In the darkness and in the light, in the yin and yang of life, we are with you and you are with each other.  Beaming out our love to you and prayers for warm, winter Advent Blessings,

Ron & Jean

This Sunday, December 8, we invite you to join us at 4pm as we celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe and lighting of the Advent wreath.

Dear Holy Ones of The Spirit of Life, 

Darkness is an Advent theme we are drawn to these days.  In these Advent days, pondering the darkness has a lot to teach us.   Some of you may receive Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations on-line.  This week he has been meditating on darkness and light—yin and yang—with Joan Chittister and Diana Hayes.  We share with you some highlights of their contemplation:

Joan Chittister:

Simple as it may seem, when the lights go out, we simply lose our bearings. The density of the dark makes it impossible for us to fix our positions anymore. We find ourselves alone in the universe, untethered and unprepared. . . . Lightlessness leaves us no internal compass by which to trace or set our steps. Unlike [the] blind, few [sighted people] ever learn to develop our other senses enough to rely on them for information about the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Interestingly enough, it is those who consider themselves sighted who are most limited without light. And so, in the end, the [dimness] undermines the average [sighted] person’s self-confidence, affects their vision, leaves them totally vulnerable to the environment and out of touch with the people around them. And that is only its physical effects.

The darkness of the soul is no less spiritually punishing than is the loss of physical light to the psyche. We talk about faith but cannot really tolerate the thought of it. It’s light we want, not shadow, certainty not questions. The aphotic, the place without images, is no less an attack on faith and hope than those periods in life when nighttime brings nothing but unclarity, nothing but fear. Where am I going? the soul wants to know. When will this be over? the mind wants to know. How can I get out of this sightless place I’m in? the heart demands.

There is a light in us that only darkness itself can illuminate. It is the glowing calm that comes over us when we finally surrender to the ultimate truth of creation: that there is a God and we are not it. . . . Then the clarity of it all is startling. Life is not about us; we are about the project of finding Life. At that moment, spiritual vision illuminates all the rest of life. And it is that light that shines in darkness.  Only the experience of our own darkness gives us the light we need to be of help to others whose journey into the dark spots of life is only just beginning. It’s then that our own taste of darkness qualifies us to be an illuminating part of the human expedition. Without that, we are only words, only false witnesses to the truth of what it means to be pressed to the ground and rise again.

The light we gain in darkness is the awareness that, however bleak the place of darkness was for us, we did not die there. We know now that life begins again on the other side of the darkness. Another life. A new life. After the death, the loss, the rejection, the failure, life does go on. Differently, but on. Having been sunk into the cold night of .. despair—and having survived it—we rise to new light, calm and clear and confident that what will be, will be enough for us.                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                    Joan Chittister, Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (Image: 2015), 19-20.

Diana Hayes:

Reality for blacks in the United States has always been one of seeming paradox. “Trouble” always seems to be in our way, regardless of the form it takes, from forced migration, slavery, second-class citizenship, to the constant enervating struggle with proponents of racism and the lack of opportunity for education, decent health care, and a life of dignity and happiness. Yet, through it all . . . we have been a people with our eyes “fixed” on God, a people for whom “trouble don’t last always.” . . . Paradoxically, it was those quiet times which always gave me the strength to go back out into the world again. God has always seemed to come to me in days of pain-filled darkness and disillusionment, to hold my hand, to counsel me, to prepare me to go forth renewed in spirit and body. . . .

 

I believe I have learned, because of my own struggles, how to see, hear, and feel the struggles of others, voiced and unvoiced.                                                                                                               

— Diana L. Hayes, No Crystal Stair: Womanist Spirituality (Orbis Books: 2016), 38, 39, 42, 43, 44.

Richard Rohr:

…But there’s another darkness that we’re led into by God, grace, and the nature of life itself. In many ways, the loss of meaning, motivation, purpose, and direction might feel even greater here. Some call it “the dark night of the soul.” Yet even while we feel alone and that God has abandoned us, we can also sense that we have been led here intentionally. We know we are in “liminal space,” betwixt and between, on the threshold—and we have to stay here until we have learned something essential. It is still no fun and filled with doubt and “demons” of every sort. But it is the darkness of being held closely by God without our awareness. This is where transformation happens.

Regardless of the cause, the dark night is an opportunity to look for and find God—in new forms and ways. Neither God nor goodness exist only in the light but permeate all places, seen and unseen. It seems we have to “unknow” a bit every time we want to know in a new way. It is like putting your car in reverse in the mud and snow so that you can gain a new track and better traction.

I believe that even when we or someone we love does die, life has not ended; it is merely transformed. It takes great humility to admit we have suffered through this kind of darkness, because it often sounds like a loss of faith to those who have not endured it. But when everything we thought we knew has turned to “nada,” in the language of John of the Cross, we actually become more loving and compassionate human beings, for we no longer rely on our own light but upon the Light of the world living within us.

The darkness of this world will never totally go away. I’ve lived long enough and offered spiritual direction enough to know that darkness isn’t going to disappear, but that, as John’s Gospel says, “the light shines on inside of the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it” (1:5). This is our own belief in paradox and mystery, the Christian form of yin/yang. 

We must all hope and work to eliminate suffering, especially in many of the great social issues of our time. We work to eliminate world hunger. We strive to stop wasting the earth’s resources. We peacefully fight to end violence. We don’t ignore or capitulate to suffering, yet we must allow it to transform us and the world. Suffering often shapes and teaches us and precedes most significant resurrections.

People who live with faith in the midst of darkness never stop growing, are not easily defeated, are wise and compassionate, and frankly, are fun to live with. They have a quiet and confident joy.

            Adapted from Richard Rohr with John Feister, Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety (St. Anthony Messenger Press: 2001), 165-166.

At The Spirit of Life, we work together in prayer and companionship to loosen the attitudes and brokenness which can hold us bound.  We believe that God’s desire for us is that we be “Whole” and thus “Holy”… full of life , unfettered by life-destroying prejudices and free to move openly as the Spirit calls us.  Our belief in the sacredness of all created beings and loving relationships compels us to respond with care and compassion to all who are marginalized in our church and world.  We invite you to come and to pray with us as we “do our own work” in growing into a deeper awareness of our own gifts and ‘growing edges’ and together create a community that invites diversity and honors the uniqueness of each individual and every journey.  We are confident that you will feel welcome in the “home” of The Spirit of Life. 

In the darkness and in the light, in the yin and yang of life, we are with you and you are with each other.  Beaming out our love to you and prayers for warm, winter Advent Blessings,

Ron & Jean