About this Blog

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Images of the Trinity

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is notoriously hard to explain. I know a certain minister who tries to avoid preaching on Trinity Sunday!

I'm currently reading a fascinating book - a discussion between Brother David Steindl-Rast and Father Anselm Grun Faith Beyond Belief: Spirituality for Our Times.

In the conversation about the Trinity there are two images I find helpful. They are both expressed by Brother David. Commenting on the common description of "One God in three persons", he says:

"I would prefer to speak of ways of appearing. That is, ways God appears to us. If we go back to the mystery that is known to us through the reality we call life, we can distinguish three aspects: first the source of life, from which life constantly streams and emerges in every instant from possibility into reality. This origin from which everything springs forth we call Father. Second, the living reality that comes from the source we call Son. And third - because otherwise all that would remain static - comes the aliveness. This divine aliveness is what we mean when we talk of the Holy Spirit."

The source of Life... 
              the living reality... 
                        the animating aliveness.

Brother David goes on to recall Augustine's analogy:
Silence... Word... Understanding.

"From silence comes the word... and it proceeds by way of understanding back into silence."

I've also appreciated Cynthia Bourgeault's more visual image of the water wheel: life giving water continuously pouring from one to another in a relationship of self-giving love.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Friends, enemies and shadows

I've had a lovely time in recent weeks catching up with old friends. "Old" means both age and years of friendship! A wide variety of friends over a long span of years is a great gift. Something I heard or read as a young person has often come back to mind: you won't have all your needs met by any one person. For me that was, and is, a liberating truth. So I celebrate the three friends I have had time with recently:
Dawn (left) and I have had many holidays together in Australia and New Zealand. We first met about 20 years ago when Dawn came on Sabbatical to BCNZ when I was teaching there.

Robyn (top) and I also met at BCNZ when we were both students there in 1970. We have stayed friends ever since even though separated geographically for most of the time. Robyn in Haiti and me in Nigeria. Even in NZ we live at opposite ends of the country Oamaru and Orewa!

Pauline (lower) and I met in the context of our mutual spiritual direction roles when she lived in Auckland. I'm not exactly sure how many years ago we first met but probably close to 20 years!


PS or Coda (or something!)

This morning in Richard Rohr's daily meditation I read a quote that prompted the title of this Post. It made me think about another kind of friendship - befriending/loving even those we might think of as enemies - whether external or internal:
"I cannot destroy the other without destroying myself.
I must embrace my enemy just as much as I must welcome my own shadow.
Both acts take real and lasting courage."

In our current climate of so much fear, destruction and anguish, genuine friends are a wonderful gift. Friendship with so called 'enemies' within and without may be even more important to our survival.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Seeing the whole picture

It's sometimes hard to comprehend that this picture...
...taken yesterday morning on Orewa Beach...

and this picture...
...from a news site re Hurricane Harvey...
can be part of the same world.

But maybe it is no more shocking than the "normal" reality of houses like this:
(photo from an Auckland Real Estate site)

...in the very same city as houses like this:
or this:

There are no easy answers to dealing with these dichotomies. But as I reflect on my own response a few possibilities arise:
  • To allow myself to feel the agony of the planet and it's displaced people. Not turning the other way because it's too hard.
  • To act in the seemingly small ways I can eg: 
    • Vote thoughtfully in the upcoming NZ election - having researched policies around climate change and reducing poverty. 
    • Sign petitions. 
    • Give generously to those "on the ground" in national and international organisations. 
    • Use social media to raise awareness.
  • To pray - for those who are suffering and for those who seem to be the cause of suffering.
  • To recognise in my interior world the dichotomies of peace and anguish, plenty and poverty, hope and despair... If I can compassionately accept the seeming contradictions as part of my 'whole picture' I facilitate gradual change within me and, in a mysterious way, the wider world.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The sun will still be rising

As I opened my curtains this morning
in the east the sun was rising 
into a patch of blue sky
to the west an ominous storm cloud loomed.

I gazed to the east.

the black cloud overshadowed the sun.
With a clap of thunder
the rain began.

But I know
that the storm will pass
and the sun will still be rising.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Before the rain!

I've just welcomed a friend from Brisbane to stay. Knowing what the weather forecast predicted we spent the first (fine!) day having a look around Orewa. How amazing to live in such a beautiful place with beach and bush at hand. I don't take it for granted. Every day is a day to give thanks and to be mindful of so many people in the world right now who would think this was heaven on earth. Maybe it is if I/we also live in the fulness of gratitude and love.