Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Longing...


Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once suggested that peace and justice will come to us when we reach a high enough psychic temperature so as to burn away the things that still hold us apart. In saying this, he was drawing upon a principle in chemistry: Sometimes two elements will simply lie side by side inside a test-tube and not unite until sufficient heat is applied so as to bring them to a high enough temperature where unity can take place. That's wonderful metaphor for advent.

What is advent? 
Advent is about getting in touch with our longing. It's about letting our yearnings raise our psychic temperatures so that we are pushed to eventually let down our guard, hope in new ways, and risk intimacy. 

John of the Cross has a similar image: Intimacy with God and with each other will only take place, he says, when we reach a certain kindling temperature. For too much of our lives, he suggests, we lie around as damp, green logs inside the fire of love, waiting to come to flame but never bursting into flame because of our dampness.

Before we can burst into flame, we must first dry out and come to kindling temperature. We do that, as does a damp log inside a fire, by first sizzling for a long time in the flames so as to dry out. 

How do we sizzle psychologically and spiritually? For John of the Cross, we do that through the pain of loneliness, restlessness, disquiet, anxiety, frustration, and unrequited desire. In the torment of incompleteness our psychic temperature rises so that eventually we come to kindling temperature and, there, we finally open ourselves to union in new ways. That too is an image for advent.

Advent is all about loneliness, but loneliness is a complex thing.

Nobel Prize winning author, Toni Morrison describes it this way:

"There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship's, smoothes and contains the rocker. It's an inside kind - wrapped tight like skin. Then there is a loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive, on its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one's own feet going seems to come from a far-off place."

All of us know exactly what she is describing, especially the latter type, the roaming kind of loneliness that haunts the soul and makes us, all too often, too restless to sleep at night and too uncomfortable to be inside our own skins during the day.

And what's the lesson in this? What we learn from loneliness is that we are more than any moment in our lives, more than any situation we are in, more than any humiliation we have experienced, more than any rejection we have endured, and more than all the limits within which we find ourselves. Loneliness and longing take us beyond ourselves.


Thomas Aquinas once taught that we can attain something in one of two ways: through possession or through desire. We like to possess what we love, but that isn't often possible and it has an underside.

Possession is limited, desire is infinite. Possession sets up fences, desire takes down fences. To quote Karl Rahner, only in the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable do we know that we are more than the limits of our bodies, our present relationships, our jobs, our achievements, and the concrete situations within which we live, work, and die. 

Loneliness and longing let us touch, through desire, God's ultimate design for us. In our longing, the mystics tell us, we intuit the kingdom of God. What that means is that in our desires we sense the deeper blueprint for things. And what is that?

Scripture tells us that the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, of simple bodily pleasure, but a coming together in justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, that is what we ache for in our loneliness and longing: consummation, oneness, intimacy, completeness, harmony, peace, and justice.

Sometimes, of course, in our fantasies and daydreams that isn't so evident. God's kingdom seems something much loftier and more holy than what we often long for - sex, revenge, fame, power, glory, pleasure. However even in these fantasies, be they ever so crass, there is present always a deeper desire, for justice, for peace, for joy, for oneness in Christ. 

Our loneliness and longing are a hunger and an energy that drive us, always, beyond the present moment. In them we do intuit the kingdom of God.

Advent is about longing, about getting in touch with it, about heightening it, about letting it raise our psychic temperatures, about sizzling as damp, green logs inside the fires of intimacy, about intuiting the kingdom of God by seeing, through desire, what the world might look like if a Messiah were to come and, with us, establish justice, peace, and unity on this earth.

(Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Feast of Christ the King (A)

Dhikr for the Feast of Christ the King Sunday (A)

Text: 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” (Matthew 25: 37-40)

Meditation: The final judgment in Matthew is based on what we have done or what we have failed to do for one another, especially to one of the least of these who are members of my family. CUIDATE!


1st step: Write the text or Dhikr (the Arabic word for REMEMBRANCE) in your heart.
2nd step: Let the text remain always in on your lips and mind - RECITING the text silently as often as possible...
3rd step: Be attentive to the disclosure of the meaning/s of the text in your life.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Finding our loved ones after their deaths...



As Christians, we believe in the "communion of saints". We believe that those who have died are not only still alive but that they are, as well, still in a real relationship with us.

But how? How do we find our loved ones after they have died?

It is interesting to note that Christianity, unlike some other religions, has never had a significant cult around dead bodies or cemeteries. We respect them, reverence them, but we do not try to mummify our dead (as the ancient Egyptians did) nor do we have much in the way of special ceremonies or religious rituals around cemeteries. There's a reason for that.

On Easter Sunday morning, Mary Magdala and some other women, armed with spices in view of embalming his dead body, went Jesus' grave. But they didn't find him there, instead they found an angel who (in effect) asked them: "Why are you looking in a cemetery for someone who is alive?" "He's not here," the angel added, "go instead to Galilee and he will meet you there."

That instruction is still valid today: When we are looking to meet our loved ones who have died we will find them in "Galilee" more so than in any cemetery. Where and what is "Galilee"?

Galilee, for Mary Magdala and the contemporaries of Jesus, was more than a place on a map, the Northern-part of Israel. It was also, and especially, the place where Jesus' spirit had flourished, the place they had first met him, the place of his key miracles, and the place where their own spirits had been stretched, enlarged, and warmed by contact with him. Galilee represented the place of their innocence, their first fervour, their initial learning, their first falling in love. Now, after Jesus' death, they were being asked to go back to that place as the privileged spot where Jesus would meet them again.

And our faith says the same thing to us: Like Mary Magdala and the early Christian believers, we can meet our deceased loved ones by going back to "Galilee", namely, by going to those places where their spirits flourished and where our own spirits were instructed, stretched, and warmed by contact with them. What, practically, does that mean? Allow me an example:

My own parents died thirty years ago and are now buried, side by side, in a little cemetery in the rural countryside where I grew up. Sometimes when I'm home, I visit their graves, say a few prayers there, and remind myself of what each of them gave me. It's nice, but it's not where I really meet my mother and father. I meet them, more deeply, in "Galilee", that is, in those places where their souls most flourished and where they took God's boundless, beautiful, colourful, life-giving energy and enfleshed it.

For example: My mother was a woman of great generosity, kind- hearted and selfless to a fault. When I go to that place, when I'm generous and kind-hearted, I feel my mother's laugh, sense her consolation, and find myself again warmed by her warmth. Conversely, at those times when I'm petty and selfish it does me little good to adorn her grave with flowers or prayers. She's there too, of course, like God's presence, faithful when we're unfaithful, but, when I'm not in her "Galilee", it's harder for her to meet me and give me what she once gave me as my mother.

It's the same with my father: His great quality was his integrity, his moral stubbornness, his refusal to compromise, his unrelenting insistence that one should always take the high road, the one less- travelled. When I prove myself his son in this, I feel his presence, his humour, his intelligence, his solid hand on my shoulder, his trustworthiness. Conversely, when I make moral compromises, he's still present, but his humour, intelligence, and trustworthy hand, can no longer nurture me in the same way.

There's both a deep truth and deep challenge in the words the angel spoke to Mary Magdala on Easter morning: "Why are you looking for a living person in a cemetery. He's not here. Go instead to Galilee and he will meet you there."

Where do we find our loved ones after they have died? Where will others find us after we have died? In "Galilee", in those places where we most give our own unique expression to God's boundless energy.

We should honour our dead and honour the cemeteries where their bodies now rest, but we meet our deceased in "Galilee", in those places where their spirits flourished and where our own souls were stretched and instructed and warmed in our contact with them. More than honouring their graves, we need to honour their lives, we need to honour the wonderful energy that they uniquely incarnated and which, in turn, nurtured, instructed, stretched, cajoled, consoled, warmed, teased, humoured, steadied, and blessed us.

When we do that our relationship with them does not just continue, it deepens.

(Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI)