Wind Chimes: 14 Oct 2012

Is it a song of praise on the First Day of the Week? Is it a song of hope? Is it the lament of Job? Where is Grace to be found? Where is God to be found? The Spirit is constantly moving the chimes. What do you hear?

God is nowhere to be found

“If I go forward, he is not there;or backward, I cannot perceive him;on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him;I turn to the right, but I cannot see him.” Job 23:8-9

God is found (as Grace) in such nowhere moments

Quote . . .Grace happens to me when I feel a surge of honest joy that makes me glad to be alive in spite of valid reasons for feeling terrible. Grace happens when I accept my wife’s offer to begin again with me in love after I have hurt her. It happens when I feel powerfully free to follow my own conscience in spite of those who think I am either crazy or wicked. Grace is the gift of feeling sure that our future, even our dying, is going to turn out more splendidly than we dare imagine. Grace is the feeling of hope. — Lewis B. Smedes in How Can It Be All Right When Everything Is All Wrong? 

We think of grace arriving like an ambulance, just-in-time delivery, an invisible divine cavalry cresting a hill of troubles, a bolt of jazz from the glittering horn of the Creator, but maybe it lives in us and is activated by illness of the spirit. Maybe we’re loaded with grace. Maybe we’re stuffed with the stuff. Maybe it’s stitched into our DNA, a fifth ingredient in the deoxyribonucleic acidic soup. — Brian Doyle quoted in The Best Spiritual Writing 2001 edited by Philip Zaleski

Both authors Quoted on Spirituality & Practice

A blessing for the week

“God give you 
an ability
to see good things 
in unexpected places,
talents in unexpected people,
and the grace to tell them so.”

Ray simpson in celtic blessings and quoted by spirituality & practice in an email dated 30 January 2012

Author: Daniel Rondeau

I am a husband and father and an Episcopal Priest (now retired) in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

6 thoughts on “Wind Chimes: 14 Oct 2012”

  1. I enjoyed the lively Forum discussion this morning. What an incredible group with wonderfully varied points of view! I have some questions and thoughts — sort of a offshoot from our discussion of Job — and would love to know what others are thinking about suffering, darkness, and walking with God.

    This morning I noticed a sense of a “dark night of the soul” in Job’s words in 23:8-9; 16-17:
    If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him. God has made my heart faint;
    the Almighty has terrified me; If only I could vanish in darkness, and thick darkness would cover my face.

    When I got home today I did a little research about those who have experienced and written about the dark night of the soul. Some of my favorite giants of faith are at the top of the list: Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Avila. Those of us who have experienced the dark night of the soul are in good company.

    I also picked up a book that I’d read some time ago, God in the Dark by Susan Pitchford (a Third Order Franciscan), in which she explores the question of suffering. She points to the two faces of passion: “desire, the mutual attraction between the soul and God; and suffering, especially our confusion and grief when we find ourselves in dark places.” She says that we “often misinterpret times of darkness, assuming we’ve failed and God has abandoned us.”

    Yet the author suggests that darkness is not a place of abandonment but a place of intimacy and a special call to a deeper relationship with the God who desires us.

    Can this feeling of abandonment make us long for God more? Can we look back after we’ve come through a dark valley, wrestling with serious illness or deep loss, and see that our loving Father was there all the time? I wonder if, just as a lover longs for the object of her affection when he is away, we long for the Lover of our soul — even when we can’t see him or feel his presence.

    This morning I also mentioned that I think it’s okay to get angry with God, to tell him how we feel when we are going through tough times There is a story about St. Teresa of Avila being thrown from the seat of her wagon and being dropped in a mud puddle. She looked towards heaven, shook her fist, and said, “If this is how you treat your friends, O Lord, it is small wonder You have so few of them.”

    This may be an example of a more lighthearted anger, but somehow it speaks to me about being honest with God about our deeper feelings. I think he wants us to be honest with him about how things are going with us. I mean, REALLY going.

    Not too long ago I was struggling with some questions that seemed to have no answers about my illness, about my vocation, about those things I want to do and can no longer do. About dreams that have died. Good dreams, spiritually worthy dreams.

    I was driving through Banning Pass at the time (a favorite place to pray for some reason), and after several minutes of trying to get my prayers beyond the roof of the car, I thought of Teresa of Avila and the mud puddle. With a bit of a self conscious grin, I shook my fist heavenward and told God how I really felt about how things are turning out.

    It took about ten minutes and more than a few tears (thank goodness, there wasn’t much traffic), and then the dam broke. Everything poured out. The good, the bad, the ugly, and … the beautiful. And wonder of wonders, the thick darkness I’d been wading through began to dissipate.

    A still small Voice broke through, light in my darkness, and spoke from somewhere deep in my heart. “You are where I want you to be.”

    Wait a minute. That wasn’t what I expected. “Lord, are you sure? What about all those plans, those things I want to…?”

    “Diane, you are where I want you to be.”

    I’m not sure he really said my name, but I know that he knows my name and that it’s written on his palm, so it’s possible.

    The thing that stayed with me is that without clearing all the emotional junk from my thinking, shaking my fist a little and being honest with God, I might have missed that Voice, that sense that no matter what I’m going through, God IS with me.

    My honesty cleared the way.

    Something tells me our God has pretty big shoulders. He can stand our questions, our frustrations, and yes, even our fist-shaking. Our doubts. Our fears. Our lack of faith. Bottom line, he knows everything about us and he loves us anyway.

    I have some questions for everyone and would love to know your thoughts:

    • Have you ever experienced difficulty finding God when you’re going through times of suffering or “darkness of the soul”?

    • Do you think it’s okay to be honest with God when we’re upset by what we’re going through? Is it okay to be, gasp, angry with God?

    • Have you ever looked back after passing through difficult times and noticed these were times of great spiritual growth?

    1. Thank you for this comment, note, and the additional questions. To respond to the last question you pose, Yes. My ‘Valley of the Shadow of Death’ (that is, ‘the wilderness’ of my illness), was a time of great spiritual growth. Actually, I continue to discover lessons learned while wandering in that wilderness. More to come.

    2. I had three catastrophic events happen at the same time. The only way I got through them was continual prayer. I would not say these were times of spiritual growth. My prayers were answered but it was God’s timing, not mine. It was the assurance of God’s faithfulness that got me through. I was too devastated to be angry. I never stopped praying.

      1. Thanks, Joan. The phrase “assurance of God’s faithfulness” leapt out at me. My guess is that more growth (as in “strengthening” what was already there) happened than you may ever know. Glad you’re a part of the Forum. ~dan

        1. Thank you, Joan. When I read your post I was reminded of a passage of Scripture that’s meant so much to me in difficult times:

          Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
          for his compassions never fail.
          They are new every morning;
          great is your faithfulness.
          I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
          therefore I will wait for him.”
          The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
          to the one who seeks him;
          it is good to wait quietly
          for the salvation of the Lord. ~ Lamentations 3:22-26 NIV

          I needed to “hear: these words last night. Your post led me to them. Thank you.

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