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An excerpt from my blog "Down the path."

I know that dreams use symbols to provide a perspective. I'm not sure — or, rather — I can't say that I believe ALL the symbols have specific meanings. What if some dreams provide an answer, or a question about one's spiritual life? Could it be that God speaks to us in our dreams? 

Shortly after Divine Mercy Sunday, I had a dream that I was standing in a glass house — a greenhouse, so to speak. It was no larger than 10 feet wide by 12 feet long. I was looking up through the glass ceiling, at a tall rectangular copper-colored glass building, probably about 40 stories high, when I heard a warning call, "lookout below." It didn't register that the warning was for me, and within seconds, the copper-colored building began to fall. I quickly turned away from it and bent down on my knees. I covered my face with my hands. When the building had fallen, I stood up only to discover that there were large glass shards embedded in the back of my head and body.

A woman came over and began pulling the shards out of my head, though I was bleeding profusely. Then, I saw a man pushing a large bathtub full of water over to where we were standing, and I thought to myself, "Oh, my God. I'm going to die." 

And then I woke up.

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I should like to commend this book to anyone who practices contemplative prayer. As a Christian in the Carmelite tradition, I have found much encouragement and guidance from the life and writing of Teresa de Avila, but early in her journey it was this book by Osuna which had a huge impact on her. Picking up on Augustine's earlier teaching, he believes that God lives even deeper inside us than we live ourselves. God knows us, loves us, waits for us. Like the father of the prodigal son, God looks out for our coming, and comes to meet us as we come home... to God, to ourselves, and to God's eternal household. As the Bible says, "In God we live and move and have our being." God is within us, but all too often we are 'without'... scattered and fragmented, and exiled from who we really are. Even after you come to Christian faith, it is easy to get distracted, but Osuna encourages determination to turn to God again and again, and in doing so, to come home to who God made us to be. The book is long, and best read like a 'lectio' slowly, in small sections and several times, for reflection. However, personally I find Osuna really positive, practical and sensitive to the grace of God.

With Billy Graham's passing

Billy Graham's last message to America and the world: a clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus.

He shared in our humanity

I have been looking back at the archives of all the people who came and engaged in dialogue in this once busy and bustling forum. And I wonder where you all are now. And how you are doing. And I wish you well and I wish you the strong peace of God this Nativity, wherever you are.

And so we come again to Christmas (and in a few days' time in some parts of the Christian world) and maybe we are reminded again of this extraordinary mystery of God's coming to dwell with us and share in our humanity, calling us as well to share in the presence of divinity, to share with each other, with our poor neighbour, with the lonely person on the street, and with the household of the holy Trinity.

'Come' said Jesus again and again. Jesus who was born in the back streets, who invites us to come to him in the back streets of our cities and the back streets of our own hearts. Jesus who longs for us to open the doors and let him in to our lives.

Jesus who was born for sacrifice and blood... to the point of no turning back... for giving... as the gift of God to us... and born in blood and tears in the sidelines of an empire, in the obscurity, in the dirt, in the givenness of a young woman, and the undisclosed decency of a young man.

The God who longs to share even consciousness and awareness with us... to share the flow of love... to open and grow in the mystery of our becoming, and the mystery of God's becoming in back street humanity, and the meeting and tenderness and alongside-ness of a life among us.

Sharing. The whole point really. The God who came and shared with us. A backstreet God of the marginalised. A God without airs and graces. A God who is presence when words alone can't reach and comfort the tears. Lord have mercy.

Remarkable mystery... not the mystery of plaster saints... perhaps as Yeats said, something of what the Magi spent a lifetime trying to find and experience again:

"The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor..."

The humble-hearted and obscure coming of God... among us... always calling to us... always loving us... always seeking out the people on the sidelines and the lonely corners of our world.

May the blessings of peace be with you this Nativity, and peace of God to each and every person who visits or has visited these pages.

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Jesus

Sometimes it's just lovely to reflect upon the loving kindness of Jesus. How good and decent he was (and is, of course). The way he connected to people, the way people were attracted, and moved by his presence and grace. His engagement with women as well as men. His intelligence, but cleverness mingled with gentle goodness. His healing instinct, and the way he could touch people's hearts and change them. His strong and still centre, rooted in daily prayer. His courage. His willingness to go out on a limb. His tenderness. His compassion and tears.

It makes me glad: that God, creator of the heavens and earth, was not so high and mighty and detached, but was willing to come and dwell with us in human form, with a humble, servant heart. To share the dust, the hunger, the thirst, the sorrows, the joys.

And our Jesus: had the amazing courage to go the whole way, out of love for us. Was willing to face mockery, physical injury, loneliness, scorn, and a horrible death... the pouring out of his dear life blood, to the point of no turning back. Loved us that much.

It's lovely to reflect on how Jesus was not only carrying out a tremendous action in history, but was also a friend. A friend who lived alongside people, laughed with them, shared with them, wept with them, ate with them, relaxed with them, in I am sure a sweet and humble-hearted way. A patient way. He could see the way we as people frequently messed up, he could see the failings, and yet he also valued us, believed in us where we could not believe in ourselves. I am amazed about the person of Jesus. And love him for his friendship, courage and kindness.

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so many...

There was not only 1 Jesus and there is not only 1 God and there are more than just 1 Holy Spirits. This is the truth of life and the universe and the cosmoi. Don't forget that the King Jesus had friends. He didn't even want to be the king. He just wanted to befriend Herodes. He said, okay, I wear the crown. And the old guy didn't even get angry. He went to the prison for him. And Judea had a good king for some time. Fat guys know something about the world. Thing guys too, but they have to eat often. The other Jesus people were great too. Some much greater than the King Jesus. And the King Jesus called himself Mister only. He disappeared into the fog later. And travelled to England to become King Arthur when he got older. That is the truth. There is mystery and long life in this world. Some bible prophecies were true and not too damaged by zealous priests, idiot officials and many big and small rogues and criminals in innocent clothing!

500 Years Later



On Oct. 31, 1517, an obscure German professor of theology named Martin Luther launched an attack on the Roman Catholic Church by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg's Castle Church — a story that has been repeated for hundreds of years. Luther's act of rebellion led to the Protestant Reformation, which is being marked by millions of Christians around the world Tuesday on its 500th anniversary.

But did that dramatic moment — Luther defiantly hammering his critique to the church door — really happen?

The story was first told by Philipp Melanchthon, a fellow professor at the University of Wittenberg, a close friend of Luther’s and a leader of the Reformation, after Luther’s death in 1546. And the church door did serve as a public bulletin board of sorts.

But Melanchthon was not in Wittenberg on the day he supposedly witnessed the nailing. He didn't join the university faculty until 1518. And Luther, a prolific writer who published 30 pamphlets in three years and later translated the Bible into German, never recounted the story.

In 1961, Erwin Iserloh, a Catholic Luther researcher, argued that there was no evidence that Luther actually nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door. Indeed, at the 1617 celebration of the Reformation, Luther was depicted as writing the 95 Theses on the church door with a quill.

Iserloh's assertion set off a debate among Luther historians that remains unresolved.

A decade ago, Martin Treu, who works for the Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt, discovered a handwritten note by Luther's secretary, Georg Rörer, made in a revised copy of the New Testament before Luther’s death. It reads: "On the evening before All Saints' Day in the year of our Lord 1517, theses about letters of indulgence were nailed to the doors of the Wittenberg churches by Doctor Martin Luther."

While Rörer was also not an eyewitness, Treu noted, "he was one of Luther's closest staff." Treu's conclusion: 95 Theses may have been nailed to several church doors in Wittenberg, not just at Castle Church.

What's not in dispute: Luther mailed his attack on the Catholic sale of indulgences to the archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, Albert of Brandenburg, on Oct. 31, 1517. The indulgences were meant to assure their buyer that their sins would be forgiven — a form of corruption in Luther's eyes.

"Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences" quickly spread across Europe and reached Pope Leo X sometime in 1518. After a series of disputes, Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic Church on Jan. 3, 1521.

The theologian became a celebrity, and with his celebrity came a following and a new religion: Lutheranism. And the founding symbol of the Protestant Reformation remains the door of Castle Church, now inscribed in bronze with Luther’s 95 Theses.

(Reposted from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/10/31/martin-luther-shook-the-world-500-years-ago-but-did-he-nail-anything-to-a-church-door/?utm_term=.68d1936c732d)

universal salvation

I am very sure now that God saves all of us and that there are no hellfire punishments. I went to our graveyard recently and spoke about that with people. They all got lifted up in their spirit and put smiles on their faces. This is how christianity must be done. Jesus is not a harsh judge - instead He was and is someone who brings the truth about the wonderful afterlife to us. Eternal life is the commandment of God - not that eternal life is the reward for serving him. God is a gentle and deep father, and Rilke and Goethe and Morus and Bonhoeffer were more right about him than Luther, Augustine, many of the bible writers, etc. We humans possess a dignity and a deep and serious heart, and God connects to us through them than through subservience and fear. This is absolutely true, my human brethren!

The Numinous

How often do you sense the numinous? The mysterious, awe-inspiring otherness of God? As a mountaineer, all through my life I have known moments when my being has been stilled - by a sudden sense of presence... of a God "just round the corner"... a sense of the deep mystery and loveliness of God. In a sense, I think God calls to us this way, all along our journey. Perhaps that's why people were drawn out to the wilderness. Perhaps that's what Moses felt when he saw the burning bush. I also feel it in great cathedrals sometimes. Or at dusk, as light fades, and the day stills. It's as if, sometimes, at God's choice, we are overshadowed by God's presence, and we know God is there, but God seems deep and beyond our words and explanations.

At times like this, we realise that though God is personal and can draw so close to us, God is also God, and beyond our control or definition. At this point, it is as if we are aware of a 'cloud of unknowing', and our tense mental control runs out of road, and in silence and wonder we become simply recipient. I love this 'hidden' God. This God who is so deep. The God, who when we stop and rest by the constantly flowing stream, is 'just around the next bend in the river'. And incites us, and touches us with yearning, and leads us on.

Do you have experiences like these?

Opening our hearts to the Love of God

How easily we get hurt, or hurt ourselves, and retreat into a protective hard shell. It's very understandable.

Yet God longs for us to open our hearts to healing and the touch of God's love. We can't do it ourselves. It's a work of grace.

Deep in our innermost place, God waits for us, day after day, all through our lives. Longs to comfort, reassure us. Longs to touch us with love and forgiveness and acceptance. Longs to open us up.

Being a Christian is opening our hearts and letting God in. It is also opening our hearts to others - not keeping God's love just for ourselves, but sharing it, letting it flow, just like God shares with us.

Open your eyes, open your ears, Jesus is trying to touch your heart. Open your mind, open your life, Jesus is wanting to show you. His grace is all you need, and in your weakness you'll have strength. Please don't be proud, please don't pretend, Jesus can see every need you have. Weakness is hard, failure is real, but Jesus can give you your freedom.

Jesus just longs for us to let down our defences, and let him touch our hearts with his gentle, powerful love. Longs to heal us where we hurt the most. Longs to open our hearts, and be there, be there with us.

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