“This is the feast where we celebrate the commonplace blessed and transformed by the flesh-taking of God. Straw and manger bed become a throne, ox and ass the gracious hosts, and humble, fumbling humanity the honored visionaries who come to look and, what is more, to see and understand. The old tensions between sacred and mundane ease, merge and grant us peace. It is our chauvinism, not God’s, that contrast the earthy to the heavenly and finds it ordinary, banal, and unimaginative. The divine contradiction is that we find him where we least expect it. The human condition: our peak experiences, and especially our sorrows, our successes and especially our failures, our “in loveness,” but especially our struggling human relationships this is the manger bed, these the places where we will know him, the Word in human vesture.”
-Gertrud Mueller Nelson “To Dance with God”
You can go all the way to the bottom of the well,
because you know who holds the rope.
“Man is a creature who depends on revelation. In all his intellectual endeavor, he should always listen, always be intent to hear and see. He should not strive to superimpose the structures of his own mind, his systems of thought upon reality…At the beginning of all spiritual endeavor stands humility, and he who loses it can achieve no other heights than the heights of disillusionment.”
-Dr. Friedrich Dessauer
I will try this day to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.
“My life is small, but God’s ambitions are bigger and wider and deeper than anything I planned or meant my life to be. I choose this. I choose to cultivate a life of the Spirit, to cultivate grace in the potty training, in the tantrums, in the relentless sameness of my plain, ordinary, beautiful life.”
-Micha Boyett, “Found”
“I kneel on the ground, my hands in the dirt, and think of humus: earth, the root word for humility. Humility is simply being earthed in God, or as Ester de Waal translates it, an “exploration into reality.” If we are found in God, rooted in God, we see our need and our value in the most real way. Humility becomes the “ruthless campaign against all forms of illusion.”
-Micha Boyett, “Found”
“In affliction, then, we do not know what it is right to pray for. Because affliction is difficult, troublesome and against the grain for us, weak as we are, we do what every human would do. We pray that it may be taken away from us. However, if he does not take it away, we must not imagine that he has forgotten us. In this way, power shines forth more perfectly in weakness. ”
-Augustine of Hippo
“In the thirty-first chapter of the rule, Saint Benedict states something so remarkable that I keep coming back to it each night as I stack bowls and dry plates. he says, “All the utensils of the monastery and in fact everything that belongs to the monastery should be cared for as though they were the sacred vessels of the altar.”
All the utensils.
I take the sponge and rinse it in the silver sink. Nothing in this skinny kitchen is all that special. And I’ve been living as if my tasks as a mom, those daily, mundane tasks-the brushing of my son’s teeth, the wiping of his bottom, the dressing of his body, the kissing of his scraped knees, the soothing of his wild terrors-as if they were nothing significant, as if they were simply normal, what every mother does.
I’m mesmerized by Saint Benedict’s words, that the monks should care for every tool in the monastery, from the garden hoe to the kitchen cleaver, as if it were the very chalice of the Eucharist, the tool that brings the blood of Christ to the lips of believers.
I am undone.
I’m not sure why I’ve been waiting for this. I’m not sure why I needed someone to say it to me this way. But with Benedict’s words, I feel my world has been reborn holy. Suddenly my life, all these small daily instruments I am packing in my home, and the very sippy cup I fill with milk and raise to my boy’s lips, is an instrument of worship.”
-Micha Boyett, “Found”
“There’s never a moment when you learn how to be whole, just like there’s never a moment when you learn how to be a mom, or how to see the holy around you. There’s only practice. There’s only noticing. There’s only the constant prayer that your heart would become what God is making it to be, that you might lift your eyes from the ground where the city is all cement and metal and danger, and toward the warm sun, which burns till the fog flees back across the expanse of the wide skye, beyond the tips of the great buildings.”
-Micha Boyett “Found”