Bound For Glory: Transfiguration Spirituality

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Part of "Bound For Glory: Transfiguration Spirituality"

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During that time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
And immediately on coming out of the water, he saw the sky rent in two, and the Spirit descend on him like a dove.
And then a voice came from the heavens,
you are my beloved, on you my favor rests.
At that point, the Spirit sent him out toward the desert.
He stayed in the wasteland forty days, put to the test there by Satan.
He was with the wild beasts, and angels waited on him.
Jesus, Son of God, lead me.
Jesus, Son of God, lead me.
Guide me, strengthen me.
I did a very bad thing yesterday, I forgot to give you homework.
And it's your duty as students to remind the teacher of that.
So to punish you, you'll get twice the homework at the end today.
Well, not to worry, I forgot last night too.
So everybody had a free day, so it was meant to be, right?
As before I begin today's presentation, which is obstacles along the road to glory,
the road which is the road of glory, as we shared yesterday,
I want you to find one other person, and this is going to be a little bit tricky in terms of gymnastics.
You might even want to stand to do this, or you can try to do it on your seats.
But what you want to do is find another person and sit so that your backs are leaning against each other.
Or stand, so that you're leaning and you can feel your backs against each other, supporting one another.
So if you do that, and make sure you're actually leaning against.
Put your weight so that you're kind of supporting each other.
You know, as kids we used to do this sort of thing.
Kind of lean on me.
Okay, and we're going to do this in silence.
You don't have to share or talk.
You don't have to look into their eyes.
This should be easier maybe.
But make sure you're putting some of your weight so that they have to support you and you have to support them.
But don't completely fall on them either.
And just experience.
Pay attention to your back, to the person that's supporting you and you're supporting them.
Be aware of that.
Feel the pressure on your back.
Yesterday we looked in each other's faces and eyes to see the glory, which is the river of love pouring itself out.
Which is God's presence in us.
But yesterday we talked about this cross, which in one way supports us in the glory.
And we carry on our backs our crosses, don't we?
But the crosses we carry on our backs also can be a support.
Helping us and others to stand in glory.
The very same part of us that carries this burden can be a strength, a support, a trellis.
In the cross is our glory. In the glory is our cross.
Now turn around and give that person a greeting of peace.
You never know what I'm going to come up with each morning.
Obstacles along the road to glory, which is the road of glory.
And I began, you notice, not with the transfiguration story, which I've begun every day.
But we talked about, to truly understand that glory, one has to go back to the baptismal experience of Jesus.
And that's also important for us in that glory, our own baptism.
But I read further in the baptismal story, didn't I?
To that same spirit that Jesus experiences, which is the spirit of God's love filling him and coming over him.
Leads him into the desert.
And that kind of leads us into this theme of obstacles.
As powerful, what I'm suggesting, as powerful as Jesus' experience of God's love was at the time of his baptism,
it was subject to doubt.
The story in the desert shows Jesus tempted in much the same way that we all are tempted to seek false glory.
In exchange for our true glory, God's river of love in us.
Even Jesus experienced the full onslaught and power of these temptations.
And at the end, the story tells us he was very tired. It was not easy for him.
He was very tired and weak and he needed assistance from God, represented by the angels in the story.
It also says he was with the wild beasts.
So these doubts can be like wild beasts, can be like demons.
The temptation to be who we are not, to grab false glory, is based on doubt.
And doubt is based on a lack of trust.
It seems to me it takes an incredible amount of trust, which is what biblical faith is,
to truly believe the truth of our baptism and the truth of Jesus' baptism.
And what makes this trust difficult, what makes it difficult to really believe and accept who we really are
with every fiber of our being, is fear.
And that's what I'm talking about today. Fear.
You read through the Bible, it's the constant theme or obstacle for human beings in our relationship with God.
And you know, fear and trust go together.
The greater the fear, what? The less there is of trust.
And the greater the trust, the less there is of fear.
So they almost have like a seesaw relationship.
As one rises, one goes down, and as the other rises, the other goes down.
So you cannot talk about biblical faith, growth in faith and trust,
without becoming aware of fear and looking at fear in our life.
Remember St. John's words in one of his letters.
Fear is the greatest obstacle for us in claiming the glory that we are as God's river of love.
The demon in the desert tempting Jesus is the demon of fear.
This is especially true in Mark's gospel.
If you remember the early chapters, Jesus is exercising demons right and left.
And there are very dramatic scenes, more so in Mark than the other gospels.
And these demons are demons of fear.
There's one dramatic one in chapter 5, the expulsion of the devil in Gerasa.
Remember this story?
They came to the Gerasene territory on the other side of the lake.
And he got out of the boat and he was immediately met by a man from the tombs,
who had an unclean spirit, a demon.
The man had taken refuge among the tombs.
He could no longer be restrained, even with chains.
In fact, he had frequently been secured with handcuffs and chains,
but had pulled the chains apart and smashed the fetters.
How powerful fear, the demon fear, can be.
No one had proved strong enough to tame him, taming our fears.
Uninterruptedly, night and day, amid the tombs and on the hillsides,
he screamed and gashed himself with stones.
And catching sight of Jesus at a distance, he ran up,
did him homage and shrieked in a loud voice,
Why meddle with me, Jesus, Son of God Most High?
I implore you in God's name, do not torture me.
He's afraid.
Now, this is this powerful demon, pulls chains apart,
can take control of a human being, can gash him against stones,
and yet is afraid, is consumed by fear.
And that fear is kind of like a living death, isn't it?
He lives in the tombs.
That fear buries the truth of who we really are.
Remember I said Jesus conquers that death with the death of love?
The death which is what? The freely giving over of the love that you are.
Pouring who you are as love out is what conquers the death that what?
Holds on, that lives in the tombs.
So many events of our lives, beginning when we are very young,
and continue until the day we die, fuel our fear, don't they?
And weaken our trust.
The problem of becoming love is fear.
And the problem of fear is a lack of trust.
Till the day he died on the cross,
Jesus was plagued with many attacks upon his trust.
Especially when he was rejected by all the religious leadership.
When his disciples deserted him.
When one of them betrayed him.
When another one of them denied him three times publicly.
When he was falsely arrested
and tried and condemned on trumped up charges.
When he was persecuted and tortured
and experienced a violent death at a young premature age.
When he experienced abandonment even by his God for some moments on the cross.
All of those were tests to see do you really believe in your baptismal experience?
Do you really believe that you are a river of love?
Flowing out upon the world and raising up to new life.
Do you really believe that you are God's river of love?
So less we think, well, he was the son of God, he had it easy.
We human beings have a hard time believing we're a river of love.
No, the Gospels present Jesus struggling every inch of the way.
As powerful as the experience is,
he was challenged to appropriate, to claim that experience over and over.
It was a daily choice.
He had to choose to trust in that experience.
At every turn, Jesus had to make an act of trust
and claim the love that he was and not give in to fear.
Because if he were to give in to fear, then he would have what?
Reached out for false sense of identity.
A false sense of self.
For some kind of substitute.
When we don't trust who we really are,
we go running after who we are not.
As if it were the real thing.
The real glory.
What I'm suggesting is, I believe fear runs very, very deep in us.
There is fear in us that you and I don't even know about.
There are layers of fear in us.
Deeper than we can ever imagine and know.
And sometimes we're shown this, aren't we,
when we're suddenly surprised by a fear in us.
And we may be shocked at a particular time in our life.
And suddenly this fear, this demon fear,
shows his ugly head and we're shocked.
I didn't know I could have so much fear in me.
A good friend of mine was recently visiting me.
And I was sharing with him.
He said, well, what are you going to talk about at Bakersfield?
And I was sharing some of the themes, you know.
And he said, well, you know, just a few weeks ago,
I took a drive with my girlfriend
and we were parked overlooking,
they were on the hills in San Luis Obispo, is where he lives.
And it was night time and he said the sky was just filled,
packed with beautiful stars.
It was a nice, clear, crisp night.
And all of a sudden they saw a meteor flash across the sky.
And he said, we had never seen such a large and bright one
with a long tail flash across the sky.
And of course, as we know, these kind of meteor showers last, what?
A second, two seconds, three seconds, very briefly.
And he said, he turned to his girlfriend and he said,
that's what I want to be.
I want to love that way.
I want to burn myself out.
I want to be a river of love.
I want to flow out of myself in love.
But I'm afraid.
And I said, you're exactly right.
That's the deepest obstacle according to scripture.
It's as if someone in us knows the truth of who we really are
as a river of love poured out.
There is a someone in us that knows that,
but it's like there's another person in us
that doesn't know this and that's very much afraid of it,
that doesn't trust in that love.
I had a recent experience of a demon fear
that I didn't even know was in me, attack me.
And I'll tell you it was a rather shocking thing.
I had flown back from Italy.
And I told you about my trip to Italy
late this summer, August and September.
I came back in October.
And the plan was to fly back to Boston.
I'm from Massachusetts.
And my family lives about an hour from Boston.
And to spend about nine days with my family,
my mother and brothers,
and then come back to California.
Well, the day I was leaving Italy,
I had to leave early in the morning from our monastery,
which was quite a ways from Rome,
where I was flying out.
And so I had to take,
one of the monks had to drive me in the morning.
And to make a long story short,
he discovered the gas was on empty.
Of course, this is all in Italian and I'm trying to figure out.
And then he's trying to find a gas station
at six in the morning and it's dark.
And it starts to rain.
We finally get gas,
but I'm going to miss my train to get to Rome.
So he decides to do a typical Maserati race
behind trucks in the dark over,
you know, and they don't just look for a place to pass.
They ride in tandem alongside the truck as they go along.
And then if a car comes, they back up,
or they pass.
Well, it was white knuckling it to the train station.
So that started my journey.
And of course we got there late,
but he made me rush in.
And the train was a little bit late.
I had no ticket.
He rushed to get tickets.
He was a young monk, picked me up,
took me to Rome, dropped me off.
And then I discover
all the baggage handlers
had just walked out on strike.
Huge lines.
And the airport became chaos.
I was six and a half hours
in the airport trying to get out.
And it was chaos.
Now, I'm a nervous flyer,
but I've flown a lot.
So it's never really prevented me from flying.
But, you know, when you see all that chaos,
it doesn't calm you down, you know.
And angry people.
And everybody had to be carrying
all their luggage around
because there was no baggage handlers.
They could not check it in.
So you have elderly people
with four and five bags,
and everybody's perspiring.
And then our flight,
because of all the chaos,
they changed our gate four times.
And this isn't a little airport.
We're going all over the airport
as they keep moving
so that you will fly from here.
And the plane we had
could not come up to one of those boarding ramps.
We had to go outside.
We had thundershowers started.
So they couldn't get us to the plane
until the rain stopped.
Then they asked us to carry our own bags.
So when I finally got through
along going down the stairs
and getting to the plane,
there were bags that had been abandoned
by people who couldn't carry all their bags,
you know, like dead soldiers right and left.
And I'm kind of walking around
and I give it up to the guy.
You know, I said,
next they're going to ask me to fly this thing.
So I'm kind of a nervous wreck at this point.
I get in the plane
and people are saying,
oh, we'll probably have to push the plane out
for them onto the tarmac.
Then they couldn't get that machine
that moves the plane out.
It was chaos.
Well, I finally got in the air.
Of course, everybody was drinking like crazy.
I was too upset to drink.
So I'm just kind of holding my seat
and I missed my connections in London.
But it was beautiful in London.
They ushered me off.
And of course I lost my luggage
because I had no plane ticket.
And they said, what's your plan?
And I said, they didn't give any out to anyone.
Oh, that's impossible.
I said, you've got to understand
it was chaos in Rome, Italians, chaos.
So I missed my connections in Boston.
The people that were picking me up didn't.
So I finally arrived there, you know,
at seven hours from London to Boston,
kind of white knuckling it,
just to get there.
And I only had nine days.
I never really unwound and relaxed at home.
I just kept thinking,
I've got to get on another plane,
go to St. Louis, change planes again,
St. Louis to San Francisco.
And I spent a week trying to get my luggage.
I got it the day before I left.
But the main point, that's the background.
So I said goodbye to my mom.
Originally I was supposed to be
several weeks at home.
I hadn't been there in two and a half years,
so it was much too brief.
And I got to the airport,
and my brother and his son, my nephew,
dropped me off.
They stayed with me until
it was about 20 minutes before,
and then they left.
I went to the gate, and normally
I'm usually one of the first ones in.
But, you know, after all of that,
I kind of prolonged it to five minutes to go.
And then I had an anxiety attack,
the first time in my life.
Some of you might know what that is.
I was down in a cold sweat.
My knees felt weak.
I felt like vomiting.
And this dread,
this horrible demon fear.
And I could not get on the plane.
And I remember calling my mom,
and she seemed surprised
because I had never done that from the airport,
and telling her what had just happened.
And I remember the sound of her voice
was so soothing.
And comforting to me.
And, of course, I told her,
well, they just left.
It's an hour and ten minutes.
So they're going to have to come back and get me.
So I was there hours at the airport
for them to come back and get me.
But I had a lot of time to think,
what just happened?
And I remember the feeling I had
was that I was a little boy.
This demon fear came in the disguise
of a little, vulnerable boy
in a big, bad world.
Almost like when a child is lost
in an airport or a big department store
and you panic.
It was that feeling
when my brother and my nephew left me
like I was all alone in the world.
And the world was this kind of chaotic place,
threatening place,
oftentimes impersonal place.
And, as you know, airports can be very impersonal
and busy and all these people rushing around.
And I felt this threatening fear and dread.
But my mother's voice was kind of like
the voice of what?
Trust. I could trust her.
The voice of safety.
Mother, for a little child,
a little boy, is safety.
She was that safe place.
And I couldn't wait to get back home.
And, of course, she was great on the telephone.
You know, she didn't say,
What? You couldn't get on the plane?
You had an anxiety attack.
Come on, you're a grown man.
My mother has three Manhattans
before she gets on a plane.
So I didn't have to worry.
I had lots of sympathy.
She said, Oh, my baby.
But when my brother and nephew came to get me,
they were looking at me like
I thought they had a straitjacket with them.
Because, you see,
I always conveyed to my family
someone who could handle everything.
You know, and as the priest,
I'm always dealing with people's fears
and calming people down
and dealing with people who are dying and ill.
They had never seen me
really overcome by fear and frightened.
Paralyzed by fear.
And they didn't know whether to talk about it.
You know, I sat in the back seat
and just silenced the first half hour.
Then I think finally my nephew,
who had just gotten out of the army,
said, cleared his voice
and said something like,
Well, how are you now?
How are things?
Something to break the ice.
My point is,
I remember when I got home
and speaking to all of them saying,
I feel very vulnerable right now.
Don't talk to me about
getting on another plane.
It brings back the nausea.
Don't talk to me about
going for medication
and getting on another plane.
I first have to understand
what just happened.
I said, I feel very vulnerable.
I feel like a little boy.
I feel like I don't want
to go home for months.
I thought, well, you know,
and I didn't fly back.
That's another story.
How I got back.
It was not easy.
The airline industry
has you around their finger, you know.
If you don't fly,
the options are,
I'll tell you, it was not easy.
Tornadoes, I mean, you name it.
After a while I said,
it would have been safer
if it was a stranger to me.
I mean, here I thought
I had been working through fears
all my life,
and I knew I had some minor fears.
I'd been working on my fear of death
for years,
and I thought I'd been confronting that.
And here it was like
this little child in me
that I didn't know,
this fearful,
vulnerable little boy
was still in me,
heavy, how can it fly?
the world.
And under the illusion
that his mother could protect him
from anything
that might hurt him,
protect him from suffering,
protect him
from even death.
In other words,
protect him from life.
And that's an illusion, isn't it?
We might allow that illusion
to play,
but I'm an adult.
I can't even protect my mother
from suffering
and dying.
How is she going to protect me?
Even God
does not protect us
from life.
With all its insecurity
and all its pain
and all its suffering
and death,
Jesus wasn't protected
from life.
He was love.
He was a love
poured out
as he lived
through the insecurities
and pains
and sufferings
and deaths of life
and transformed them
by trusting in this love
that he was.
To trust a love
that I cannot see
that does not protect me
from life,
does not protect my loved ones,
does not live up to my expectations,
that I cannot prove,
and that much of my own
human experience
might even contradict.
To trust that love
is indeed very risky,
isn't it?
It's a very difficult thing
to do over and over again
as we are inflicted with more,
what, insecurities
in life.
I'm beginning to think
it's the hardest thing
in the world there is.
It's the hardest thing in life
that we have to do.
It's our one and only vocation
to trust enough
so that God's love
can become who we are
and cast out
all fear.
Love is perfect enough,
is perfect in us, rather,
when we become love.
And when we become love,
we become Jesus.
Like Paul,
then we can say
it is now not I who live,
but Christ who lives in me.
Our fear,
and there's really only
one fundamental fear
that spawns the thousands
of other little fears
that we have,
and that's the fear
of not being loved.
And I don't mean
of getting some kind
of human affection.
I mean the way God loves,
which is being to exist.
God, when God loves,
you have creation.
You have something that is.
That's our great fear.
That's why we fear death.
We will not be loved into life.
We will not be.
We will cease to exist.
We will not be loved.
That's the fundamental fear
and spawns many, many
hundreds of other fears.
And that fear
gives rise to something else
that we have to confront
in our life,
and that's our life
of illusions.
Illusions are the primary
weapon or tool
or defense of fear.
The way fear feeds itself
like a fire putting wood
on a fire,
the way fear keeps growing
in our life,
and the way fear insulates
against the pain of reality.
I read a book
on anxiety attacks,
of course,
after I had this experience.
And the first thing
the book said is,
unless you work on this
right away,
it will creep into
all areas of your life.
See, fear builds on itself
like a fire,
and it will create
all these illusions.
And, of course,
one of the big illusions
of anxiety attacks is
all you keep thinking about
is what could happen,
not what might happen.
You don't think of probabilities,
you think of possibilities.
Well, anything is a possibility.
And they talked about people
who have heart surgery
and have anxiety attacks
after because now
they think at any moment
their heart could stop.
Imagine living with that fear.
At least I can avoid
a plane or an airport.
But how do you avoid
your heart?
You can't.
So it's a constant panic.
You're ready for a panic attack
all the time.
And it keeps spreading
and spreading.
These illusions
are very powerful
and all pervasive
and they use the idea
of false identity,
creating the many masks
that we wear
for various situations
and that we hide behind.
In the desert,
the demon of fear,
as we heard in Jesus'
experience in the desert,
the demon of fear
conjures up all kinds
of illusions
to tempt Jesus
into abdicating
who he really is.
The demon even quotes
scripture to him
if you remember the story.
Ah, that suggests
we often come to religion
with our fears
and we seek illusions
in religion.
We seek safety,
protection from life.
Much of religion
can be simply part
of our system
of illusions
feeding our fear
and protecting us
from going deeper
into the truth
of who we are,
a river of love.
We heard on Sunday
the first reading
the sacrifice of Isaac
or the almost sacrifice
of Isaac by Abraham.
That story is simply
about this.
It's a test.
Abraham is being tested
to see how far
he's willing to trust
and who or what
is he willing to trust
and how much
does he fear
and how pervasive
are his illusions.
Does he trust in a God
whom he cannot see,
who he cannot prove
to others,
whom he cannot control,
who he cannot
fully understand
or will he trust in Isaac?
His own flesh and blood,
something concrete
he can hold in his hands,
something concrete
in this world
that he can see
and touch
and embrace
and control
and understand,
something made
in his image
and likeness,
in some way
an extension
of his own ego.
That's what the story
is about.
great little book
on the Desert Fathers
and at the beginning
of this chapter,
the writer quotes
a story,
a true story
of one of the Desert Fathers
on this very point
but said in a different way.
Abba Lot
went to see Abba Joseph
and said to him,
as much as I'm able,
I practice
a small rule of life,
a little fasting,
some prayer
and meditation.
I remain quiet
and as much as possible
I keep my thoughts clean.
What else should I do?
He's living a religious life.
And then the old man
stood up
and stretched his hands
toward heaven
and his fingers
became like
ten torches
of flame.
And he said to the other one,
If you wish,
you could become
all flame.
One way of religion
and another way of religion.
The true way of religion
is what?
To be consumed.
To become
all flame.
Not to practice
a little of this,
a little of this.
Isn't this nice?
He felt sort of safe
in his little rule of life.
Well, I'm covering
all the bases, you see.
Not too far
in any one area.
A little of this.
And a lot of us
do that, don't we?
But we're really afraid
of being
all fire
or that
total river of love.
If you wish,
you could become
all flame.
We resist
becoming the love
that we are
because we're afraid
to let go
of our world
of illusions.
A world we think
we hold firmly
in our grasp.
As the saying goes,
one bird in the hand
is worth more
than two in the bush.
And maybe the two in the bush
represent the burning bush
that Moses encountered.
It always feels safer
what you got in your hand
no matter how many
things you tell me,
well, if I let go
I'll have this.
But I don't have that.
And you see,
we never have God
in our hand.
We never possess God.
To let go
is to trust
in what is not
in my hand.
Not even God.
A number of years ago
when I visited
the monastery,
the Trappist monastery
in Gethsemane
after their vigils
in the middle of the night
which ended at 3.30
I went to my room
and it all was really quiet
and I lit a candle
and I was sitting there
with my journal
looking at the candle
and I suddenly realized
like summarizing
all of my life
I said,
all of my life
I've been a moth
drawn to the flame
and I just dance around it.
I want to get close enough
for some light
and for some warmth
but I'm very careful
not to let my wings
get singed.
Not to get pulled
into the flame.
And yet
someone in me
wants to enter that flame.
And another one in me
is very frightened.
So they bargain.
Close enough
but not too close enough.
Warm enough
but not too hot.
We all use religion
to get enough light
enough warmth
without burning
without being consumed
without being transformed
into love.
We want to be loved
on our own terms
and we fear becoming love
on love's own terms
which is God's own terms.
And our illusions
are so real to us
more real than reality itself.
All that is not
God's river of love
in us
is unreal
is passing
is illusion.
But it is so strong
that for all of us
a lot of the time
it is more real
than God's river of love in us.
And that's the great paradox
and tragedy.
For human beings
illusion is more real to us
than reality.
We fear both
the cross
and we fear
the resurrection
believe it or not.
One writer says
Jesus' greatest act
of courage and trust
was accepting
the resurrection
a total
of life
that you don't
create yourself.
You see
the fear of the unknown
as great as that is in us
is not as great
I mean, I'm sorry
the fear of loss
of what we do have
as great as that is
is not as great
as the fear of the unknown.
And the resurrection
an unknown life
an unknown way of living.
And that is resurrection life
this river of love.
There comes a moment
in our lives
when we must face
with every cell
in our body
every thought
in our mind
everything we ever thought
we understood
as real.
A time in our life
when we have to
confront all of that
and face
the only one reality
divine love.
To face this love
and become this love
requires abandonment
Like St. Francis
in the story of St. Francis
when he awakens
to this deeper truth
and goes to the public square
with his father
and his family there
and all the townspeople
and the bishop there
and takes off
all his clothing
strips naked
going off
into the unknown.
Love's glory
is not a small thing.
I must learn
how to throw myself
over and over again
into the fire of love.
Remember Jesus'
other words in the gospel
I have come to cast
a fire upon the earth
and oh how I wish
it were already blazing.
He means the fire of love
that what?
Will consume everything
and all there will be
is love.
You know
we are not fundamentally
fallen creatures.
We are fundamentally
summoned people
called by God
each moment of every day
to be who we really are
in and with Jesus.
To be love poured out
in total and absolute trust.
And in spite of our weaknesses
and our illusions
and our fears
and our lack of trust
we need to take comfort
that we are relentlessly
and ingeniously
loved by God.
It is only with Jesus
and in listening to him
that we can do this
that we can
move through
our illusions
and our fears
and discover
and live
and become who we really are.
And that's going to be
the talk tomorrow.
Listening to Jesus
and with Jesus.
A few suggestions
for homework
Name your demons of fear.
Do you remember that
one exorcism story
in Mark
where Jesus
what is your name?
The demon says
we are legion, many.
It's important to name
our fears.
Part of the power
of fear over us
is what?
It's disguise.
Staying in the shadows
yet manipulating us
influencing our choices
and producing
these illusions
this false reality.
So it's important
we try to
face our fears
and name them
and enter into dialogue
with them.
Who are you?
Why are you so strong
in my life?
As I've been dialoguing
with that little boy
Johnny Powell.
Who are you?
And journaling
trying to
and talking to my mother.
So name your demons.
Make a list
your demons of fear.
Then ask Jesus
to cast them out.
And to help you
let them go.
Many times it's not that
Jesus doesn't want to
cast them out.
We don't want to let them go.
And they don't want
to let us go.
Kind of a
claw hole.
Some part of us
holds on to them
and some part of them
holds on to us.
That might be a good
See if you can
name your fears.
And a second one
might be
in what areas of your life
is your trust
the weakest?
You might find
there are areas
where it doesn't even exist.
There's no trust there.
But what are the areas
of your life
where your trust is weakest?
Where maybe your trust
is the most tested.
And it's the most difficult
for you to keep on trusting.
So those would be
the two suggestions
I would have.
Let us now sit in silence.
And he led them
up a high mountain.
He was transfigured
before their eyes.
And his clothes
became dazzling white.
Whiter than the work
of any bleacher
could make them.
Elijah appeared
to them along with Moses.
The two were
in conversation
with Jesus.
Then Peter spoke
to Jesus,
how good it is
for us to be here.
Let us erect
three booths on this site.
One for you,
one for Moses,
and one for Elijah.
He hardly knew
what to say
for they were
all overcome with awe.
A cloud came
and overshadowed them
and out of the cloud
a voice.
This is my son,
my beloved.
Listen to him.
Suddenly looking around
they no longer saw
anyone with them.
Only Jesus.
And as we begin
this morning,
I'd like you to
you close your eyes again. Maybe I should have left them closed. And maybe you spent
some time thinking about fears in your life. In fact, why don't you stand? Maybe this
would be good to do standing too. With your eyes closed. And I want you to think about
a fear in your life. And as you think about that fear, I want you to clench both fists
very, very tight. Almost symbolizing the fear. Usually fear kind of grips us, or we are gripped
by it. So clench your fists very, very, as tight as you can clench them as you think
about that fear. As you picture that fear, as you imagine that fear, as you feel that
fear perhaps. And in your own heart, ask Jesus to take that fear away and to help you let
go of that fear. And when you're ready, when you say this several times in your own heart,
to open your unclenched fists in an open palm. You might want to do that more than once. Maybe
several fears come to mind. So we're just going to have a few moments of silence for you to
embody the fear by clenching your fists. Ask Jesus to take it away, to help you let go,
and then to symbolize it by opening your palms facing upward in a gesture of surrender and
letting go. Do that for as many times as you need to do that.
Jesus, Son of God, take my fears. Jesus, Son of God, take my fears. Give me courage,
give me strength. And share a sign of peace now with someone near you.
Okay, you can be seated. Thank you for joining me in that little exercise. There is no copyright
on any of these little things I have you do. Feel free to borrow them, use them in your
own life. This can be a very helpful embodiment and not, sometimes we can kind of, in an abstract
way, think about fear, but actually what does fear do to the body? We tense up, we tighten
our grip or our jaw. So to actually embody it and then to embody the opposite, what you
want to do is let go, to open up, to release, to surrender. So that's something. And then
the five minutes before and after, I encourage you to do that in your own life, to do that
kind of quiet sitting meditation using breath and using a mantra of some type that you can
chant out loud or internally to yourself, or you could just say the name Jesus. I encourage
you to do that in your life. And so we arrive at the last talk, entitled
Awakening to Glory, Listening to Jesus. And the Transfiguration scene comes to a conclusion
with the voice saying to the three disciples, this is my beloved, listen to him. And so
what I'm suggesting in this last talk is perhaps the way we can cut through the illusions created
by our fears in order to protect us from reality, maybe a way of cutting through that is through
listening to Jesus. And you know, listening is central to the
Bible because the Bible, the Semitic peoples as a whole, understood God more often than
not to be a God who speaks reality. We know that from the very creation story that we
see in Genesis. It begins with God said, and God said, and that's repeated however many
times if you remember the story. And God said, let there be light, and voila, there
was light. Let there be darkness, and there was darkness. Let there be land, let there
be water, let the water separate from the land, and so on, and so on, and so forth.
And so that very much reflects the Semitic idea that God created through speaking. Now
it doesn't mean human language, that he spoke Hebrew. That's what the Jews spoke, that's
what God spoke. What it means is a deeper sense of speaking. When the Jews understood
God as speaking reality, creating through speaking, what they meant is God speaks God's
self. That when God speaks, it's a self-utterance. And therefore, what humans know to be language,
is somehow a derivation of that. That all speech is somehow a derivation, I'm in trouble
with that word this morning, of this fundamental way of speaking, which is God's way of speaking,
which is to utter oneself. That's why we say Jesus is the word of God. We don't mean language,
Hebrew, English, Italian. We don't mean that. What do we mean? He is the self-utterance
of God. God utters God's self. It's something like this river pouring out, right? Speech
kind of pours out. This God's inner nature pours itself out. That's the Semitic sense.
And so if God creates by pouring God's self out, by speaking, uttering God's self, then
everything that God creates is a word of God that must be listened to in order to speak.
If we are to truly know that thing, as well as its source, its creator. Even the human
person, the word person comes from the Latin personare, to sound through. So a human being,
in particular of all of creation, a human being, because of where we are in evolution and our
consciousness, a human being is meant to be a personare, to sound through the self-utterance
of God. Every human being is a word of God, is an utterance of God. That's our vocation,
to realize that and to be a true word, to be God's true self-utterance. By a life of what?
Integrity. A life of unity. A life of truth. By being who we really are. A river of love
flowing out, building up to new life. And so if God speaks reality, then for the Semitic
people it's terribly important, the first order of the day is people have to learn how
to listen. Otherwise they cannot know the really real, from the Jewish point of view.
And to not know the really real is to live an absurd life. And the English word absurd
comes from the Latin surdus, which means deaf. So your life is absurd when you are not listening,
when you are deaf to what God is uttering in life, as life, as you, as your neighbor.
God speaks God's presence. And if I want to find God in life, and God is ultimate reality,
God is the really real, God is the only lasting reality, I have to learn how to listen to
this way that God speaks. And we know this is a theme throughout the whole Old Testament
and New Testament. Abraham and Sarah begin their journey into an unknown land because
of what? Of listening. Something they heard. This whisper deep in their heart, speaking
a promise, as I said yesterday, giving rise to a hope which they trusted. The Exodus story
is all about listening, isn't it? God's listening to the cries and sufferings of his people.
Moses listening to God, whom he doesn't want to really, send someone else, I can't speak.
But then it's also about Pharaoh not listening to Moses, not listening to God. And as they
wander into the desert, it's about Moses not listening to God. Remember, he doesn't
enter the promised land because of not listening. And the Hebrew people, all of those who left,
according to the story, Egypt, never entered the promised land. It was all their descendants,
the first generation born in the desert, enter. The rest all die off because they didn't listen.
The biblical word for listening is obedience. That's our English word, again, from the Latin
al-audire, to listen. Obedience is listening, it's a listening life. And disobedience is
absurd life, it's deafness, it's not listening. And so we see these two themes interweaving
throughout all the Bible, obedience, disobedience, obedience, disobedience, obedience. It seems
like the Jewish people in any consistent way can't keep listening. They lose their concentration,
they can't keep focusing. This prompted the psalmist to write, rise, sleeper, wake from
the dead, your salvation is near at hand. This disobedience, this deafness to life is
like sleepwalking. You think you're living reality, but you're really asleep. You know,
it's kind of like, have you ever wondered, is my dream reality and when I wake up I'm
dreaming, or is it the other way around? Was I dreaming and now I'm awake, or was I awake
and now I'm dreaming? Another psalm, Psalm 95, says, if today you hear his voice, harden
not your hearts. Don't be deaf, if today you hear his voice. The author of the Hebrews
picks that up and says, every day is today. Every day is today. And that means God speaks
every day, and we are challenged every day to listen to God speaking reality, God speaking
life, God speaking my own existence, God speaking my own truth of who I really am. There's
another line in the psalms, famous line, deep calls unto deep. God speaks at the depths
of life. God speaks at the level of the heart. God speaks to the heart. And we must learn
to listen deeply from the depths. A deep listening life cuts through the illusions and hears
the fears and eventually might find the center, like the center of the labyrinth, some of
you may have walked. The truth of who we really are is always seeking to break through into
our awareness, if we know how to listen. To discover and live the really real in union
with God, we must be deep listeners. And this is all that's meant by the word contemplation.
That's in the literature today. We hear it, people mean different things, but really a
contemplative life is a deep listening life. So when people say the contemplative dimension
of the Bible or the New Testament or the Christian life, that's all they mean. A deep listening
life. Saint Benedict in his famous rule begins the whole rule with the words, listen. And
he ends the rule with the word, listen. But as I say, the ancient Jews found it difficult
to really listen. When we hear their stories, in some way it's like a mirror reflecting
us to ourselves and not to point accusing fingers at them, oh, those crazy Jews, why
couldn't they listen? They should have trusted in the desert. Well, that's easy for us to
say. Every one of us, probably ten times a day, goes back to Egypt, to the familiar,
the flesh parts, to the saint. Because the desert is a very uncomfortable, mysterious
place where you have to rely totally on God. Jesus is presented in the New Testament almost
in contrast to his predecessors, his Jewish people, as the epitome of a listening Jew.
The epitome of a listening person. He is the obedient one. And Jesus teaches in parables,
we hear in the New Testament, because parables require deep listening. And life itself, your
life and my life, is a parable. A paradox. And the only way I will find into that paradox
is through a deep listening life. And as we've already said in these talks, at his baptism,
Jesus had a major listening event, didn't he? It was a major event in his life. He heard
God speak to him, telling him who he was, that he was the beloved, that he was this
river of love. And he became what he heard. He became that love. And he didn't hear it
secondhand. He didn't read it in a book. He heard it directly, spoken to him. And this,
what he heard, would guide his life, we've said, and guide his mission, would become
his very identity. All because Jesus heard, listened, and believed. He listened in trust.
And he trusted who he heard, the one who spoke to him. And he would continue to trust this
voice, listening to it in the face of many voices which sought to convince him otherwise.
Both within his own head, within his own mind, we have many voices, but also voices around
him that kept trying to talk him out of being faithful to his mission.
In the Gospels, Jesus tells us that he has not come to do his own will. What does that
mean? To hear his own voice and follow his own voice. He's not come to do that. He's
come to do the will of another. We all talk about God's will. What are we talking about?
God's voice. God's word. He has come to hear one word and to do that word. In the
Hebrew sense of things, to hear, to truly hear, is to do. God's word is always a verb.
It's interesting that in the Hebrew language, the verbs precede the sentence, or the beginning
of the sentence. And nouns are seen as sort of static realities. Verbs are action. Verbs
create life. And God only speaks verbs for the Hebrew people. God's word, the Hebrew
word for that is dabar, and it's a verb. God only speaks verbs. Now, we might say, that's
terrible syntax. You need some nouns and adjectives. God speaks creation, speaks life. It's always
a dynamic reality. And that's, Mary has that sense of it. We hear in Luke's Gospel when
she says, may it be done to me according to your word. A word, God's word, is done to
you. Really, it's probably not correct to say, we do God's word. It is done to me. But
I have to what? Say, yes, I have to surrender. We say, that's Mary's fiat, right? Her yes.
May it be done to me according to your word. And so, modern people think, well, I'll listen
to something, then I'll decide what to do about it. That would be a false experience for the
Semitic people. When the word is not done in your life and through your life, you haven't
heard it yet, that's the sign. That's why, for the Desert Fathers, they felt you couldn't
interpret scripture until you do the scripture. Then you'll know what it means. Until it is
done in your life. That's why there's a story of one Desert Abba who went to his master
and he asked for a word of life. Sometimes they would quote scripture or paraphrase or
give a teaching from their long experience. This Abba gave him one word, he didn't see
him for five years. He finally comes back and says, well, you certainly took your sweet
time. Why didn't you come back for another word? He says, it has taken me five years
to let this word be done in me. I think I'm ready for another word. That's very Semitic,
you see. That's a very Semitic sense of word. So when we say to listen, this deep listening
to that one word that God speaks to us, it's that word being done in us. And this is the
one word God speaks. This is really the only word God speaks. And Jesus, in the agony in
the garden, again sticking with Mark's gospel, they went to a place called Gethsemane. Sit
down here while I pray, he said to his disciples. At the same time he took along with him Peter,
James and John. We know who those three are, don't we? Transfiguration story. Then he began
to be filled with fear and distress. And he said to them, my heart is filled with sorrow
to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake. And he advanced a little and fell to
the ground, praying that if it were possible this hour might pass him by. He kept saying,
Abba, you have the power to do all things. Take this cup from me, but let it not be as
I would have it. Let it not be me following my own word, my own will, but as you would
have it. When he returned, he found them asleep. Could you not stay awake even an hour? Be on
guard and pray that you may not be put to the test. The spirit is willing, but nature
is weak. And we know the story goes on and they're still sleeping. There we see an example
of Jesus' struggling and the story is trying to show he's fully human. You know, he's not
a God pretending to be human. He's not Superman, impervious to the realities of life. He embraces
them all. And Jesus, as he's trying to be faithful to this truth of who he is as a river
of love, still had to struggle with human feelings and even fear. But the point is he doesn't
follow the fear and he's not paralyzed by the fear. He mentions it to God, he talks to
God about it, he feels it, he prays it. But he still says, but not, let me not follow
the word of fear. And he tells his disciples, stay awake. To follow fear is to sleep. And
we know what they'll all do, won't they? They will all abandon him. They will all follow
the word of fear. Once Jesus is arrested, they're still asleep. They still haven't awakened
to the truth of who they really are and who Jesus really is.
The Transfiguration story repeats the words spoken at Jesus' baptism, the words he heard
deep in his heart and trusted. And then we are told to listen to Jesus. But it seems
to me we listen best to Jesus when we listen with Jesus, to what he heard and trusted.
And each one of us needs to hear and trust what Jesus heard and trusted. And at some
point in my life, I need to hear it firsthand, not just secondhand or thirdhand. But like
Jesus, I need to hear that word of God spoken in the depths of my heart. And not just once,
but I need to remember that word and keep going back, like going to a well and dropping the
bucket and drawing up water each time to refresh me, to remind me, to revive me from my sleeping
illusions, my sleepwalking. Who am I now? Who am I? We need to keep reminding ourselves.
That's why memory, remembrance has a privileged place, doesn't it, in Scripture. Without memory
you can't learn anything from the past, your own past nor the past of your ancestors. Memory
is so important. And memory is an aspect of listening. It's one of the ways that we listen
to our lives, listen to the witness and the wisdom and the discoveries of other people.
It's the way we listen to God, by remembering how God has already spoken in our life.
Jesus wants us to enter into his baptismal experience, we said on the first day, to enter
into his life, into his consciousness, his spirit, his identity as a river of love. He
wants us to enter into his listening spirit and to hear his deepest truth, which is our
deepest truth, thanks to him and the giving of his life for us.
You know, I had a powerful experience when I was around 14 years old. Even though I'd
been raised Roman Catholic, I pretty much didn't know God, not first hand anyway. I
knew about God through catechism and the nuns teaching in religion, etc. But I hadn't really
had what you might want to call a direct encounter, at least not one that I was aware of, one that
would kind of make the hair stand on end at the back of your neck, you know. So I knew
information about God, but God wasn't a personal reality. I just knew information that I could
spit back on a test. And this one time I was going to Saturday afternoon confession. And
my mom, I was around 14, my mom dropped me off. She was going to go do shopping. She
says, I'll be back in such and such a time. And I came in and it was a slow Saturday.
Nobody else was there. There was one priest in the confessional, the green light was on,
which says go, you can enter the confessional. And I did the normal thing that I'd done hundreds
of times having been through Catholic grade school, which is you what, first kneel down
and you examine your conscience. You get the list together, the laundry list. So I got
the laundry list. And as I'm getting it together, I was aware, sort of feeling frustrated. In
general, I was frustrated with my sinfulness in the sense that I had reached an age where
I was kind of getting caught by the ideal of perfectionism, you know, and thinking, well,
I need to kind of overcome these sins. And I found that some of them were so ingrained
in me, I couldn't change. I couldn't overcome them. I kept tripping over the same kinds
of things. And I was feeling sort of frustrated and sort of powerless about it. You know, and
I noticed that my confessions were almost always the same, the same list. Oh, nothing
exciting, you know, the same pattern, ingrained habits. So I was aware of that as I'm putting
the list together. And then I went into the confessional, said the sins. I don't remember
to this day what the priest said to me. He gave me my penance and I came out, knelt down
in the dark church and started to say my penance. And thinking about this other stuff
that I told you, you know, that, gee, it's the same old stuff. I don't know why I can't
change God and saying the penance. And then I suddenly had this awareness that I was not
alone. Now, I'm kneeling with my eyes closed, but I just had this sense of someone was there.
And it intensified and deepened that there was somebody there, but I didn't open my eyes.
I didn't see anything, just feeling like somebody was right there with me on the kneeler. And
I started to have this intuition that, oh, sins are something about a relationship. They're
not about breaking rules and commandments so much as they affect a relationship. And then
I heard this voice deep within me that didn't seem like my voice, like a whisper saying,
John, you're right. This is about relationship. And I've always been here in your life. And
I've always loved you and I always will. And I remember, I'm just closing my eyes tight
as I'm hearing this voice and feeling this presence. And then I started weeping the first
time in my life, weeping because I realized my sins were affecting a relationship with
this presence that was speaking a wonderful message to me, that He's always been there
in my life, has always loved me, and always will, in spite of my habitual sins. And so
I started weeping, saying, oh, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Where have you been? How come I haven't
noticed you? And the voice kept reassuring me, it's okay. It's okay. I've always been
here. I've always loved you and I always will. Well, I felt worse because then I realized
that really maybe there's only one true sin in life, and that's not to realize who's in
your life, not to realize who's there loving you every minute of your life. That's like
turning your back and not realizing there's someone there walking beside you, behind you
all the time. You never turn around, like finally I was turning around facing this presence.
And I realized I was so worried about these habitual sins and I was mistaking the most
important sin. I was sleepwalking. I was blind. For all my religious education, I still was
not aware of this loving presence in my life. And I felt terrible. I felt terrible. I felt
terrible. And I said, I don't want to ever do that. I don't want to ever turn my back
on you again, Lord. I want to keep you before my eyes all the time. I don't want to ever
forget you. And there was just silence. And then finally the voice said, well, then I
felt like I was being embraced. Again, my eyes are closed. I'm kneeling down with my
hands together like this. And I felt that somebody was embracing me and that I was being lifted
up off the kneeler. And I felt, of course, a little fear there. And the voice said, stop
being afraid. Stop trying to stand on your own two feet and trust me.
When I next opened my eyes, an hour and a half had gone by. When I came out of the church,
you can imagine my irate mother. How many sins did you have anyway? I got in the passenger
side. We started driving. The parish was a seven or eight minute drive away from home,
not far away. And she says, what's wrong? I said, what do you mean? You seem different.
Nothing. I never told anyone until many, many years later, until I was a priest. And I think
the first time I told was a public audience. I never revealed what turned my life around.
Oh, don't think I had no fears. You heard about some of my fears yesterday. No, no, no.
But this was a breakthrough moment. I heard directly that I was loved. And I had been
a poor student. I had failed the seventh grade and had repeated it. This was in the eighth
grade that I had this experience. And I became the top of the class. Suddenly I had all this
confidence because I was loved. And I began thinking about how can I keep this presence
before me all the time? Well, I said, I guess it's either be a nun or a priest. I didn't
know. How do you do that? I want to think about God. I want to, I'm praying all the
time. And I knew I couldn't be a nun. So that left the priest. But over my life, I've had
to keep going back to that experience, like dropping the bucket in the well, to try to
remind myself or these many selves in my head that tell me the opposite message. No, you
will be loved if you're nice, if you're accepted, if you're popular, if you join this club,
if you get straight A's in school, if you don't bother your parents and upset them,
if you play it safe. You know all those voices and messages that tell you that? And then
other voices that say, people don't like you. Why don't you have more friends? You're only
a B student. See all the other negative voices? I would have to keep going. And I still, to
this day, I go back to this experience and it's like I say, Lord, I heard it then. It
did make a lot of change in my life, but it didn't pull me out of my own humanity and
my own human experiences. I still have all these experiences and these voices, but I have
a place to go now. I go back to that. And of course, it's reinforced through what? Scripture
tells us this. So it's reinforced through Scripture. But I have to go back, as Jesus
went back to his baptismal experience throughout his life. And it's like I have to do battle
with these other voices and say, hey, wait a minute. What is the voice of truth in my
life? And how can I believe it more completely and more deeply? I believe God is speaking
that same word to every single person, but how we're going to hear it directly varies
with each one of us. Don't come up to me later and say, oh, you were lucky. I'm 72
and I'm still waiting and you had it at 14. You must be special. Don't say that to me.
I believe God is speaking it all the time to every person. And how it will break through
is going to be different for each one of us. But it doesn't make any person better or have
an advantage over the next person. And for a lot of people, that truth, that word, that
one word that we are that's trying to break through into our consciousness and get us
to listen, for many people it happens during a crisis, doesn't it? When all your systems
are not working, your ordinary system of coping and illusions starts to fall apart. And you
hit rock bottom, as they say in AA. You hit bottom. And then you're a bit more open to
listen. For many of us, it's a crisis. It may be a crisis of health. And we hear in
a way like we've never heard before. Our own or maybe somebody else's crisis that very
intimately touches us. But isn't it a shame that we have to wait or seek a crisis in order
to hear this truth? There must be a way of deepening our listening ability to life, our
listening ability to God. But this listening, as I've said, this listening with Jesus requires
depth. And depth is something I think we must cultivate. Do you remember the parable of
the sower and the seed who goes out scattering the seed and some falls on the path, some
falls among the rocks, rocky soil, some falls amid thorns and some falls on good seed, on
good soil. And that's the seed that has a chance to what? Go deep and take root and grow
up and produce fruit. Deep listening requires the cultivation of deep soil. Until I cultivate
that depth in my life, God's word, God's seed has no chance in my life. And remember, we're
saying this deep listening is simply the contemplative life, the contemplative dimension to life.
And how is that deep soil of listening cultivated? Well, the tradition is overwhelming in saying
several things, silence, solitude, time, attentiveness, receptivity. It's no accident, you know, that
Jesus spent 30 years before appearing in public to preach the word he heard. Thirty years
of cultivating, 30 years of living a quiet, rural life, 30 years of time, 30 years of
vacancy for God, 30 years of attentiveness and receptivity. Haven't you ever wondered
about that? How much more Jesus could have done if he hadn't been a late bloomer? If
he were your son today, what would you think if he was 30 and still living at home? He
wouldn't fit, would he? What are you waiting for? Don't just sit there, do something.
You know, most of us use words most of the time to avoid silence and to remain on the
surface of life. Before a word has time and space to penetrate deeply into our hearts
where we can listen to it deeply and let it be done in our life, we quickly follow it
with another word and another, speaking with rapid fire. And none of those words have a
chance to find deep soil in us. And even our prayers are that way, both in private and
together in church. At the hermitage when guests come there and join us for prayer,
we and they are both struck by how fast they speak and how slow we speak. The monk comes
out who's presiding and he may say, the Lord be with you. And also with you. It always
kind of shocks the monks to think, people really speak that fast? And of course there's
a five second delay and then the monks say, and also with you. So the guests think we're
all on Thorazine. And of course we think they're all on speed. It makes a wonderful
Eucharist, you know, the Thorazine people and the speed people. It's really funny. So
now we have to announce something to the speed people. First of all that they shouldn't feel
sorry for us that we're all on Thorazine. And secondly, that they should try to slow
down and we'll be patient with their speed. You see, words come from silence. They come
from silence. And words return to silence. Silence teaches us the place where words come
from and where they go. And you know, you don't create silence. Silence is always there
throughout our lives as the background of our life, as the background of our words.
But when I'm saying words, I'm not just speaking of language, am I? Our life is a word. So
the silence is the background to all our activities, to all our doings, to our very lives. But
just as we use words to avoid the silence and to stay on the surface of life by using many
of them and very fast, so too do we live the word that is our life. We live busy, crowded
lives with no space in between the words, in between the sentences, in between the paragraphs,
in between the pages and chapters. We have bought the lie, and it's particularly a modern
lie, that the full life is the busy life, crammed in with as much as possible. We are
literally fast-fooding our way through life. And we fear death because it'll be the end
of all these activities and these experiences. We cannot be deep listeners with Jesus to
the truth of who we are and what life really is about if our lives are completely crowded.
Such a life is always saying, there's no room at the inn. That's what our lives are saying.
There's no room at the inn to receive the stranger. And I'll tell you, the one truth that God
speaks is a stranger to us, and there's never any room in our inn. We crowd out the real
God, we crowd out real life, we crowd out our real selves by a life that we are fabricating
out of fear. And the stronger the fear, the faster the pace of life. And it shows you
how modern Western people are desperately afraid, because we keep increasing the pace.
We're running away from something. Even the multiple good things we do is still the same
addiction. It's just more clever, it's more palatable, it's more acceptable because it's
good things. Our lives have become like shopping malls, absolutely packed, and each item crying
out for our attention. And when I go to a shopping mall now, which is rarely, I get headaches
all the time. Because it's like everyone there and every item is crying out saying, look
at me, look at me, come closer, look at me, buy me, you need me, take me home with you.
Well that's going to give you a headache. Imagine that's thousands and thousands of voices screaming
at you. So I get headaches all the time. People come on retreat to the hermitage. Father, yes,
what are we supposed to do all day? You see, life is doing. We've equated, we've bought
the line, life is doing. Life is this fast pace of doing. And again, we speak the way
we live. There's no space in between the words and sentences and paragraphs. Listen to the
way you people pray the Lord's Prayer, or the Creed. On Sunday I heard every Mass, you can't
deny it, I had no time to breathe. You guys were excellent, you left me in the dust. I
felt like the turtle in the race with the hare. And if you pay attention to that often
enough and all the parishes do it, you realize what is this all about? There's no space
for the silence to get through. What's going on? And then when you realize, well that's
how they're living their lives, then that becomes how we speak is just a what? A manifestation
of how we're living. And then we belong to a tradition that talks about the word, sinking
deep roots. Well how can a word have a chance? How can our lives have a chance? We create
a life of doing and we identify with doing. And we have forgotten just how to be. So when
I tell people that I'm in retreat, they look at me like I'm an idiot. What do you want me
to be, a leaf of lettuce? What do you mean, be? Yes, I know doing is certainly a part
of what it means to be a human being, but it's not the first and the last part, is it?
When you're born, you're not doing. You just are. And everybody's doing for you. And when
you die, it's the same thing. Well maybe the truth is in the beginning and in the end.
And all in the middle is a lot of illusion. Now when our doing is an expression of our
being, when our words express the silence and reverence the silence and even reveal
the silence by spaces in between, when our words express the silence and reverence the