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  • Conversations Journal – Life Among The Shadows
    surprising It gives the impression that the world is somehow larger than the sum of its parts We are the solid matter behind the suggestions of our own shadows Without our physical presence nothing appears Yet conversely without shadows we are but ghosts There is no substance from which is cast forward any proof of our existence We live among ghosts and shadows Before our structures of commerce built of hollow bones and the featureless droning of our money lust lived taller souls Antony of Egypt Augustine Bishop of Hippo Julian of Norwich Bernard de Clairvaux Mechthild of Magdeburg John of the Cross Thomas Merton They were those whose smallness cast forward agreatness holy mustard seeds dwarfing the hungry world around them And their shadows have not been silent Nor have they been still If we are to become greater than our shadows would suggest we would be wise to envelope ourselves in the calming grey shade of saints who have soaked up enough light that they shield us from God s glory that would immolate us in our tepid backward lives These luminaries shine out like shook foil thank you Gerard Manley Hopkins even as Moses face shone after gazing into the great abyss that is the face of I Am We too can do the same How How do two scenarios so utterly different find commonality How do the prismic lives of these great saints enter our own ashen experience of contemporary chaos Is it possible for the ascetic unitive consciousness of Antony to become our own Can he who had no wife and children no mortgage or debt no rush hour anxiety or job insecurities to deal with speak into our lives How do such ancient voices so removed from the modern experience of shameless hurry find their place within us Right neither do I Instead I offer a frightening consideration those who long for the nourishing desert silence must be willing to live there first For in the desert is found the abundant life the a priori life of those least satisfied with anything less with nothing more In other words what Antony and his ilk would tell us is that to be as still and unshakably unified as they we cannot simply use them as therapeutic platitudes to shield us from the worst of our game We change our game to find their life Louise and Warren used to own two cars one each for work They generally parked their camper truck and small boat on one side of their triple car driveway that fronted a 3500 square foot Tudor style home in the gentrified shiny part of town His work with a large software company combined with her consulting business typically brought in a healthy six figures Now Louise hosts whomever comes to the door of their communal home bracing their days with warm fire and hot soup a blanket and conversation It is Warren s turn to act as community vicar and offer

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2015/08/life-among-the-shadows/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Desert Spirituality | Conversations Journal
    face of I Am We too can do the same How How do two scenarios so utterly different find commonality How do the prismic lives of these great saints enter our own ashen experience of contemporary chaos Is it possible for the ascetic unitive consciousness of Antony to become our own Can he who had no wife and children no mortgage or debt no rush hour anxiety or job insecurities to deal with speak into our lives How do such ancient voices so removed from the modern experience of shameless hurry find their place within us Right neither do I Instead I offer a frightening consideration those who long for the nourishing desert silence must be willing to live there first For in the desert is found the abundant life the a priori life of those least satisfied with anything less with nothing more In other words what Antony and his ilk would tell us is that to be as still and unshakably unified as they we cannot simply use them as therapeutic platitudes to shield us from the worst of our game We change our game to find their life Louise and Warren used to own two cars one each for work They generally parked their camper truck and small boat on one side of their triple car driveway that fronted a 3500 square foot Tudor style home in the gentrified shiny part of town His work with a large software company combined with her consulting business typically brought in a healthy six figures Now Louise hosts whomever comes to the door of their communal home bracing their days with warm fire and hot soup a blanket and conversation It is Warren s turn to act as community vicar and offer morning prayers Filling the simple living room looking not unlike the common area of a large hermitage were a host of icons a candled prayer station four kneelers and a prominent Communion table that doubled as a dinner board They invested all they had in this new little community Once they sought to find a faith sufficient to uphold their life Now they seek a life sufficient to indemnify their deepening faith They live their lives hidden in the safety of holy shadows cast long and still by those whose silent voices speak the loudest Desert Spirituality By Valerie Hess March 10 2015 in Blog Desert Spirituality 1 Comment Last fall I was privileged to co lead a retreat on the Desert Fathers and Mothers What was especially meaningful was the retreat was held in the desert of New Mexico at a retreat center called Ghost Ranch Near Abiquiu about an hour north of Santa Fe our group was housed at Casa del Sol a building down the road from where Georgia O Keeffe had her home for many years Casa del Sol is a U shaped building with rooms around the outside of the U the focus of the center patio area is Pedernal the mountain that

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/category/blog/desert-spirituality/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Desert Times | Conversations Journal
    healthy six figures Now Louise hosts whomever comes to the door of their communal home bracing their days with warm fire and hot soup a blanket and conversation It is Warren s turn to act as community vicar and offer morning prayers Filling the simple living room looking not unlike the common area of a large hermitage were a host of icons a candled prayer station four kneelers and a prominent Communion table that doubled as a dinner board They invested all they had in this new little community Once they sought to find a faith sufficient to uphold their life Now they seek a life sufficient to indemnify their deepening faith They live their lives hidden in the safety of holy shadows cast long and still by those whose silent voices speak the loudest Forced Desert Retreats by Marlena Graves 1 Comment We often think of retreats as times of refreshment as times when we choose to get away from our normal activities of daily living in order that we might behold God and also examine ourselves and our ways And that is what retreats usually are Read More Post a comment 1 The Daily Desert by Keith Meyer Comments Off on The Daily Desert I have often quoted a priest who said that his daily experience with God more often than not is like being with a stranger in a very dark room and the only way you know they are there is because they occasionally clear their throat Read More Comments Off on The Daily Desert Weathering the Winter by Elizabeth de Smaele Comments Off on Weathering the Winter I am captured each time I visit a World War II cemetery in Europe My very first visit was to the American Cemetery in Margraten Netherlands where 8301 white crosses set in perfect symmetry across an expansive manicured lawn mark the graves of those who sacrificed their lives to purchase Europe s freedom In the memorial which greets you as you enter its gates 1722 names are engraved along two long walls to commemorate the American soldiers who lie in unknown graves Engraved tributes inspire gratitude to these fallen heroes and urge a new generation to walk in their stead A verse from Flanders Fields is my favourite of these To you from failing hands we throw the torch be yours to hold it high Read More Comments Off on Weathering the Winter Soul Balast by Fil Anderson 1 Comment I think I shall always remember this black period with a kind of joy with a pride and a faith and deep affection that I could not at the time have believed possible for it was during this time that somehow I survived defeat and lived my life through to a first completion and through the struggle suffering and labor of my own life came to share some of those qualities in the lives of people all around me Thomas Wolfe The Autobiography of an American Novelist I

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/category/blog/desert-times/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Saints | Conversations Journal
    foot Tudor style home in the gentrified shiny part of town His work with a large software company combined with her consulting business typically brought in a healthy six figures Now Louise hosts whomever comes to the door of their communal home bracing their days with warm fire and hot soup a blanket and conversation It is Warren s turn to act as community vicar and offer morning prayers Filling the simple living room looking not unlike the common area of a large hermitage were a host of icons a candled prayer station four kneelers and a prominent Communion table that doubled as a dinner board They invested all they had in this new little community Once they sought to find a faith sufficient to uphold their life Now they seek a life sufficient to indemnify their deepening faith They live their lives hidden in the safety of holy shadows cast long and still by those whose silent voices speak the loudest All Who Walk in the Way of Perfection by Christopher Brown BE THE FIRST TO COMMENT I look to the faithful in the land that they may dwell with me All who walk in the way of perfection shall be my friends 1 Psalm 101 6 Four years ago my friend Tim recommended that I read The Philokalia They know what they re talking about he said referring to the Christian monks whose writings were compiled in this volume They knew what they were talking about Considering that Tim was pursuing a doctorate in patristics I trusted that he knew what he was talking about so I ordered the book My life has never been the same since Read More Post a comment 0 All Saints Day by Valerie Hess 1 Comment All Hallow s Eve traditionally was to All Saints Day November 1 st what Christmas Eve is to Christmas Day There isn t time to go into the history of the Church holiday called All Saints Day but do an Internet search sometime if you didn t realize Hallowe en was originally a Christian festival Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses on the church door on October 31 st knowing there would be crowds of worshipers coming through those doors the next day Read More Post a comment 1 My Mother the Saint by Michelle Van Loon 2 comments Shalom Chaverim Til we meet again Tears slid down my face as I sang the familiar Jewish folk tune and watched transfixed as my mom s irregular rasping breaths slowed slowed then stopped After my sister and I made the first round of phone calls notifying people of my mom s passing I stepped outside into the thick Florida air for a few moments alone It hit me for the first time my mother was in the Lord s presence For almost all of her sixty eight years she d been a tough minded secular Jew and had always prided herself on her ability to hold a

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/category/blog/saints/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Conversations Journal – What About Those Drowning Egyptians?
    fits well with what Talmud scholars wrote about God Our rabbis taught When the Egyptian armies were drowning in the sea the Heavenly Hosts broke out in songs of jubilation God silenced them and said My creatures are perishing and you sing praises For more ideas and references about this see my article A God Who Weeps It includes ideas and quotes from the excellent book The Suffering of God The destruction of the Egyptian army was not God s first choice or even tenth choice God gave Pharaoh many opportunities to free the Israelites whom they had unjustly enslaved Even worse the Egyptians committed infanticide against the Israelites Then Pharaoh commanded all his people Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile Exodus 1 22 How could a good and just God let enslavement and murder continue So God through Moses gave the Egyptians warnings ten in fact What kind of parent gives ten warnings Our merciful God works hard to avoid destruction Yet people make evil choices and God is indeed a just parent who allows logical consequences to follow And yes the tenth plague involved the death of children but not all the male children as the Pharaoh had murdered but only one per family At this point God did not use the eye for an eye standard of judgment The deadly consequence of the destruction of the Egyptian army was a choice they made when they decided to pursue the fleeing Israelites into the miraculously made pathway through the sea The Egyptians presumed that the miracle performed for the Israelites to escape their tyranny was also intended for them They could have avoided their own destruction if they had not been so determined to capture the fleeing Israelites Their own thirst for brutality caused their destruction The Talmud quote above points out that giving or even allowing logical consequences for our actions doesn t seem to be any easier for God than it is for a human parent God s will is for humans to act with love and justice which is echoed in God s frequent cry throughout the prophets Return to me Add to that plea the image of God with hands extended as God pleads I said Here am I here am I to a nation that did not call on my name I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people Isaiah 65 1b 2a Author Thomas Fretheim comments God s hands are extended all day long in invitation even to a rebellious people but they would have none of God Judgment must fall but again it is accompanied by a heart full of grief In the same way God experiences anguish and misery when we engage in self destructive behavior This is a God who desperately wants our best a God we can trust to be and do good Join the Conversation How do you respond to the idea that God weeps

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/2015/07/what-about-those-drowning-egyptians/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Blog | Conversations Journal - Part 3
    wife Read More Post a comment 3 Life With The Brothers By Mindy Caliguire March 16 2015 in Blog Free Free Stuff 1 Comment The monastic life is above all a life of prayer Thomas Merton Contemplative Prayer Several months ago Gary Moon invited me to contribute to Conversations Gifts From the Monastery Several writers will spend a week long retreat at monasteries from various traditions perhaps you could represent the evangelical tradition and visit a Protestant retreat house See if it would work for you to go he urged and write an article about your experience about the gifts you ve received there Ahhh A silent retreat Where do I sign up I cannot think of a time in my life during which such an offer would not have been attractive But the more I thought about it with schedules and child care I simply couldn t pull it off Most of us can t get away for that kind of retreat though many gifts admittedly await those who can Our spiritual lives needn t be dependent on these times though we can discover the rich gifts of a deep spirituality right in our own homes I needed to learn how to care for my own soul right in the midst of my own life with the brothers not monastic brothers but the three active boys who share my home Read More Post a comment 1 Desert Spirituality By Valerie Hess March 10 2015 in Blog Desert Spirituality 1 Comment Last fall I was privileged to co lead a retreat on the Desert Fathers and Mothers What was especially meaningful was the retreat was held in the desert of New Mexico at a retreat center called Ghost Ranch Near Abiquiu about an hour north of Santa Fe our group was housed at Casa del Sol a building down the road from where Georgia O Keeffe had her home for many years Casa del Sol is a U shaped building with rooms around the outside of the U the focus of the center patio area is Pedernal the mountain that Georgia O Keeffe claimed God would give her if she painted it enough We were removed enough from the main Ghost Ranch area as to feel fairly isolated though in reality we were a phone call away from the main ranch and help if needed Technology was limited no Wi Fi and scant cell phone reception which contributed greatly to the desert experience Read More Post a comment 1 Trust God Do the Next Thing By Jan Johnson February 18 2015 in Blog The Big Questions 3 Comments The book Abandoned to God the biography of Oswald Chambers who wrote My Utmost for His Highest and many other books is full of wisdom as well as being an interesting story One of Chambers favorite sayings was Trust God and do the next thing He lived this whether he was starting a new training college or serving as a WW1 military

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/category/blog/page/3/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Blog | Conversations Journal - Part 4
    t say Yes but because her being legally unmarried but pregnant made her the scandal of the year for many years Instead she poured out a seemingly spontaneous passionate prayer song which is now called the Magnificat Lk 1 46 55 It is so magnificent that some doubt that an illiterate peasant girl could have composed it Yet others have caught on that Mary borrowed phrases and ideas from Hannah s celebration words of Samuel s birth as well as several psalms 1 Sam 2 1 10 Ps 38 6 71 19 111 9 103 17 98 1 107 9 98 3 132 11 Indeed girls like Mary often sang Hannah s song as they did household chores So Mary may have belted it out many times the way you and I do in the car when our fave song comes up Read More Post a comment 1 The Universe in a Cup By Robert Rife November 12 2014 in Blog Bread Wine 4 Comments So at the end of this day we give thanks For being betrothed to the unknown And for the secret work Through which the mind of the day And wisdom of the soul become one John O Donohue from his poem The Inner History of a Day Not unlike any other boy of eight or nine I was entranced by the world around me inexplicable broad and spacious and wild Atoms just kept getting tinier stars brighter planets bigger forests darker oceans deeper plants and animals more strange and my world more mysterious than the day before I read everything I could find a habit that has followed me into late middle age Astronomy dinosaurs oceanography geology and theoretical physics well Jules Verne really all found their place among Hardy Boys and comic books It was a blurry haze of wonderful Read More Post a comment 4 Big Medicine and Strong Magic By Valerie Hess November 3 2014 in Blog Bread Wine 1 Comment I don t know and can t imagine what the disciples understood our Lord to mean when His body still unbroken and His blood unshed He handed them the bread and wine saying they were His body and blood I find substance in Aristotle s sense when stripped of its own accidents and endowed with the accidents of some other substance an object I cannot think On the other hand I get no better with those who tell me that the elements are mere bread and mere wine used symbolically to remind me of the death of Christ They are on the natural level such a very odd symbol of that and I cannot see why this particular reminder a hundred other things may psychologically remind me of Christ s death equally or perhaps more should be so uniquely important as all Christendom and my own heart unhesitatingly declare Yet I find no difficulty in believing that the veil between the worlds nowhere else for me so opaque to the intellect

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/category/blog/page/4/ (2016-04-28)
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  • Blog | Conversations Journal - Part 5
    ways that being a dad has impacted my spiritual quest stewarding and serving In this article I share with you two more plus a bonus fifth way 3 Saving On Christmas Eve two years ago my daughter Abby became my eternal sister when she accepted Jesus Christ s free gift of salvation My wife Kim video recorded the conversation and the prayer that Abby prayed as she received Christ as her Lord and Savior The moment was super special and memorable but it did not come as a surprise to us Read More Post a comment 0 What s The Real Story By Tom Smith September 5 2014 in Blog In his monumental work After Virtue Alasdair MacIntyre wrote I can only answer the question What am I to do if I can answer the prior question Of what story or stories do I find myself a part 1 As followers of Jesus we situate ourselves within the beautiful story of Father Son and Spirit making and remaking the world Spiritual formation takes place when we inhabit the story of God expressed in the life of Jesus Empowered by the Holy Spirit we are changed inwardly making the world a better place to the glory of God In the letter to the Ephesians the apostle Paul wrote But that is not the way you learned Christ 4 20 This verse makes me wonder how do we learn Christ MacIntyre s emphases on story gives me a clue because learning Christ has much more to do with inhabiting a specific kind of story than just reciting some prepositions Read More Post a comment 31 Four Ways Being a Father Has Impacted My Spiritual Quest Part 1 By Adam Feldman September 4 2014 in Blog Parenting Formation Being a dad is one of the best parts of my life It can be equally frustrating stomach bugs late nights messy house and exhilarating first steps learning to read surprise love notes in my sock drawer The Bible has a lot to say about both parenting and being parented and it is clear that God has ordained the parent child relationship to be a redemptive one The following are four ways that God has used my role as dad to impact my spiritual quest I share the first two in this post and share the second two plus a bonus in the next post Read More Post a comment 0 Crucible of Parenthood By Paul Bowman August 21 2014 in Blog Parenting Formation At just 4 years into the wild jungle of parenting I write this with no claim to expertise but rather as a kind of field note from within My three boys are still toddlers yet in this short amount of time I have come to learn that God uses the experience of parenthood as a means of transformation I like to call it the crucible of parenthood A crucible is something designed to put you to the test for the ultimate

    Original URL path: http://conversationsjournal.com/category/blog/page/5/ (2016-04-28)
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