Become absolutely free!

The only way to deal with an unfree world
is to become so absolutely free
that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

-Albert Camus

Become absolutely free! Sounds good, but how?

The news is filled with unfreedom. From the economic downturn to the prisoners at Guantanamo to the plight of the Tamils in Sri Lanka to the abused children in Catholic Irish reform schools and many more around us. In essence, the source of this unfreedom is our fear of the unknown, our attachment to our illusions and our entitlements, our needs for power, prestige, and possession.  

How do I respond to these events? How do I live in freedom in this "unfree world?" Here's where the Psalms help me big time: "Turn to me, and I will turn to you... Seek peace and pursue it... The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want..."

And the Good News? We are already free. Jesus' love for ALL has freed us from the tyranny of this world. He gave his life to get us back into the fold. We are ransomed! All we need to do is to fully and totally accept that We. Are. Free.

How about you? What beliefs, ideas, opinions imprison you?  What needs to happen in your life for you to "become absolutely free?"

Which of you desires life,
and covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace, and pursue it.

-Psalm 34


Lover man, oh, where can you be?

The night is cold and I'm so alone
I'd give my soul just to call you my own
Got a moon above me
But no one to love me
Lover man, oh, where can you be?

-Billie Holiday

Today, as I walked to lunch from my office to my favorite soup place, the weather was perfect: a little cool to the skin, and the sun was out. I heard myself whistle Billie Holiday's song, Lover man. Beautiful tune. 

Because of my daily prayer with the Psalms, most of the time what my faculties perceive turn into lectio (holy reading). When this happens, prayer happens, and delight and joy bubble up. Prayer for me is union with God. And who wouldn't be joyful to be present with the Divine. 

It helped too that the song sounded like something from the Song of Songs. I looked it up and wow...

Upon my bed at night
   I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but found him not;
   I called him, but he gave no answer.
‘I will rise now and go about the city,
   in the streets and in the squares;
I will seek him whom my soul loves.’
   I sought him, but found him not. 

How about you?  What popular songs meant for human lovers can you turn into songs between you and God? What would it feel like if you imagined that God is singing the song for you?

Seek His Face, said my heart.
And so I will seek Your Face,
O God.


Question Initial Assumption

Abbot Joseph asked Abbot Pastor:
Tell me how I can become a monk.

The elder replied:
If you want to have rest here in this life
and also in the next,
ask: Who am I?
And judge no one.


I was supposed to go to Chehalis for a Blessed Movements workshop. It's a 2-hour drive down. So Thursday and Friday, I emailed and phoned my contact and no answer and no reply. I was beginning to judge her. By midnight last night, I emailed her saying I am not coming to Chehalis if I didn't hear from her. By that time, I was hoping she's okay, and safe. That was the excuse I made up for her not replying to my emails and calls.

Then she called at 10 am today telling me no one registered. But that she left a voice message 4 days ago on my cell telling me the gig is off because of non-registration. I never check my messages. So there. If I judged her as 'incompetent' or something worst, then I'd have been disrespectful, unloving, toward her.

How about you? When has something like this happened to you and you assumed 'wrong' about the motive or the person? What will you remind yourself of next time your expectation is not being met?

How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
   How vast is the sum of them! 
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
   I come to the end—I am still with you. 
-Psalm 139



“I long, as does every human being, 
to be at home wherever I find myself.”
-Maya Angelou

Home! That's the subject line from an email of my friend who just came back from a short, sweet, "very, very great" vacation.

I describe home as that place where I feel welcome as I am. Where I am allowed to be who I am. Accepted as I am. Where I feel comfortable. No posturing. No games played. No intrigues. I guess with that description, the home I am talking about is not a physical place, but a space reserved for me. I can say with confidence that in this life, one of my homes is my wife's heart. I am all of the above in her heart.

Another is St Placid Priory where I am nourished, heart, body, and soul. The nuns provide a space for me, physical and emotional and spiritual, when I visit. Then there's my oblate community. They are not names and faces, but souls. When we meet, we are a gathering of souls, of hearts.

The home improvement project that consumes me is this home called "Roy." It's my life project. The makeover will last that long. And only if I stay on it, without resting, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength. With God's grace and blessing, I want it to be a house of prayer, where Alleluia is the first word of the day, where Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus is constantly chanted, where Amen is the last word uttered every night.

Ultimately, my home is the Beloved. With the Holy One, I am more or less than the "I am" I think I know. I am loved more than I can understand, more than I can bear.

How about you? Where or what is home for you? What is the invitation do you hear in Jesus' words: "My house is the house of prayer: but you have made it a den of thieves?"

Let's have a few moments of silence for those without a home, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Even those I will bring 
to My holy mountain. 
And make them joyful in My house of prayer. 
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices 
will be acceptable on My altar; 
For My house will be called a house of prayer 
for all the peoples.

-Isaiah 56


Worthy to be loved

Our job is to love others
without stopping to inquire
whether or not they are worthy.
That is not our business and, in fact,
it is nobody's business.
What we are asked to do is to love,
and this love itself will render both ourselves
and our neighbors worthy.

-Thomas Merton

Today, I presented at Seattle U's School of Theology and Ministry on 'Yoga, Spirituality, and Health.' It was well received. Father Pat Kelly, SJ, is so delightfully welcoming. I felt at home right away. We were on the floor most of the time. Shoes off to remind ourselves that wherever we seek God is holy ground. Even when waiting for that latte, in the bathroom brushing your teeth, or at the office dealing with a difficult co-worker.

I remember one of my earliest spiritual guides, Fr Pat O'Leary, SJ, telling me that the world is my monastery and wherever I am is my cell. That quieted my disappointment of not being able to become a monk anymore.

But Merton's call to love is far more challenging I think than becoming a monk. Inside a monastery or not, the call to love others unconditionally is the challenge I want to tackle. Even for short periods of time, I want to experience that, and to share that love. Human love is very limiting. It's like holding your breath forever. You just can't. You can't be loving all the time. But perhaps, when I love at that moment, can I just love without condition, without reservation, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, with all my strength? Help me, my Beloved. Teach me how to love as you love us.

How about you?  Has your spiritual practice enabled you to love more fully, less conditionally? What needs to happen for you to be more loving, more compassionate?

God has entrusted to us the news of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ;
It is as through God were appealing through us,
and the appeal that we make in Christ's name is:
be reconciled to God.

-2 Cor 5:19-20