Published April 18, 2015
For a writer solitude is essential. Solitude helps me create a state of mindfulness. Or perhaps, better put, mindfulness is best cultivated in solitude. But time alone is also good for my own personal and spiritual growth. It is in solitude that I truly see and understand my deepest needs, feelings, and impulses. Spending occasional time alone is essential to achieving self-discovery and self-realization. I try to spend two hours a day by myself. This most often happens at four in the morning, when the house is dark, still, and silent. During this alone time, I’m often able to connect the dots of my life. It during these solitary hours I am best able to see patterns and tendencies in my life, and consider making any adjustments I deem necessary. Periods of aloneness help me re-focus and renew my spirit. It is a time of learning and invention. Beyond that larger chunk of time, I need to feed my soul bits of stillness during each day…taking a moment to breathe deeply and offer a simple prayer of thanks or praise.
The slower you drive through your day the more you will see…and feel. The present moment is often bursting with blessings, if we are attentive enough to see them. The most joyful thing I do each day is feeding my rabbit. When she sees me come out of the house, she comes running and hopping to me, stopping at my feet, looking down at the ground awaiting my hand to deposit a bit of apple or banana or, her favorite, a tangerine. As she eats, she allows me to pet her. A bit of bunny bliss is a true delight. It makes the interconnection of all life tangible. Even rabbits understand kindness.
Published April 15, 2015
In his book, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, St. John of the Cross said: “To come to possess all, desire the possession of nothing.” His startling words stand in direct opposition to our American ambition for power, money, pleasure, glamour, security and an ever increasing standard of living. The saint came to realize that an unrestrained appetite for these things fragments the soul, causing our lives to be too divided and cluttered to find the true peace and joy that can only be found in loving and serving God above all else.
On the cross, through grace, reconciliation and union with God became possible. St. John of the Cross asks us to live the Paschal Mystery, to enter the living death of the cross. He says, “The soul must empty itself of all that is not God in order to go to God.” The detached heart knows the fullness of peace, joy and freedom, and sees the face of God illuminated in all of creation.
Those who struggle for their daily bread can offer great insight to those of us who struggle to go deeper into our spiritual lives. The road to mystical consciousness is paved with an acceptance of our natural state of exodus, acceptance of the reality of human misery, acceptance of our limitations and fragility. The poor know about these things. And the humanity of Christ illuminated the vulnerable character of human nature.
As I made my film Endless Exodus, which documents the plight of the undocumented migrants from Central America and Mexico, I came to see that an awareness of oppression and a struggle for justice are integral to genuine mysticism. The all-embracing Christ invites us to be with Him, so that He, through us, can be with all people. We are all migrants. As people of faith, we are migrants going from sin to grace, from earth to heaven, from death to life. Our migration is grounded in our belief that God first migrated to us in the person of Jesus and through him we are called to migrate to God. If migration worked itself into the self definition of all human beings we would not be as threatened by migrants as we often are; instead, we would see in them not only a reflection of ourselves but Christ who loves us.
Published April 12, 2015
At the dawn of the new century
our spiritual lives are threatened
by countless weapons of mass distractions,
such as: mass media, cell phones, the internet,
near-constant noise and obsessive consumerism.
So much of modern life
drives us from what is
most true and essential.
The way to disarm these deadly weapons
prayer, fasting and concern for those in need.
The intensity of TV and movie action and violence
creates within us an artificial poverty of experience,
making our everyday “real” lives
seem pallid and insignificant,
requiring artificial stimulation and addiction
in order to endure it.
The actual poverty of life
reveals our need for
the kind of abundant life
promised by Jesus.
It recently dawned on me
that my spiritual life has grown more steadily
as my movie viewing declined.
Life without solitude is a life out of balance.
We need to do more than squeeze moments of solitude
out of our increasingly frenetic days.
Patches of seclusion soothe the soul.
Published April 9, 2015
As each new day dawns,
God’s light gives us
a renewed pledge of God’s love,
a fresh beginning that is pure gift,
a gift meant to be given away during the day.
In the silence between night and day,
we feel God’s grace and peace
and are commissioned to become instruments
of that very same grace and peace.
In the splendor of new light,
God’s love and mercy are revealed.
O God help us see the radiance of your light
and show us this day
how to be servants of your peace.
Published April 6, 2015
The resurrection is not reserved for the future.
The resurrection needs to happen here and now.
We must share in the resurrection every day.
We have forgotten the resurrection and its life-transforming power.
For the most part, Christians have changed their religion
instead of changing the world.
Christianity has essentially become
a private and individual affair.
And the Christian, in most cases,
is only interested in his or her
own suffering and resurrection.
Liberation is found only in the resurrection.
Published April 3, 2015
Weary are my days
when I crave God and resist God
at the same time…
which I do nearly everyday.
All God wants is a surrendered heart.
The road to God takes us through
conversion, contrition and communion.
And it does so on a daily basis.
The desire to imitate Christ
is the first step in actually doing so.
Can I trace Christ-like patterns in my life?
How quickly our “hosannas” of Palm Sunday
turn into Good Friday cries
of “Crucify him.”
Our sins shout, “Crucify him.”
Published April 2, 2015
In the Passover meal celebrated by Jesus we begin to learn about true sacrifice and true servanthood. God is not interested in human or animal sacrifice. Nor is God interested in the sacrifice of fasting from certain foods on certain days. The sacrifice that God seeks is the letting go of all that is ungodly within us, the letting go of our ego, the false self that always puts ourselves first. To “pass over” from an ego-centered life to a God-centered life, from a self-centered life to another-centered life, requires a sacrificial surrendering of all that binds us, all that needs to die, so we can walk freely into the mystery of God.
Suffering and sharing are the gateways to divine intimacy. To become intimate with God means to become the humble and loving servant of all. By washing the feet of another, God’s love moves from an abstract theory into a concrete reality. Jesus came to be a servant, to sacrifice himself for us. We must do likewise, by sacrificing ourselves and serving others.