“Blessing the darkness”?

We’re always questioning the darkness in our lives.  What good is it?  Why does God allow it?  Here are Ann Spangler’s thoughts:

Larry Crabb says that we find God only when we need him. Simple words, but true. It’s like looking for the light switch in a dark room. No one goes searching for it until the sunlight has gone. Similarly, darkness can impel our search for God.

Several years ago I met the last survivor pulled from the wreckage after the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001. During our time together, Genelle Guzman-McMillan told me a story about flirting with faith but choosing to live without it. Then, on September 11, her world fell apart and she found herself in complete darkness, buried alive under a mountain of rubble

You can read the rest here.

When the thread snaps

If you feel things are out of control in your life (and even if you don’t), this is for you:

Hanging By A Thread

 A week ago, I thought I had things under control.  My blog post was up on Monday and I’d jotted down thoughts for another two; my upcoming classes with senior executives were planned; my beard was trimmed.
On Tuesday, I ate lunch with a friend I’ve been out of contact with for a while.  He gave me inscribed copies of his two most recent books, which I started reading that day.  Then, it all changed.
We brought our eight year old, Jopa, to the MD’s office that afternoon.  She’d been showing signs of what we thought was an infection.  We were wrong.  It was Type I diabetes.
One day her pancreas was producing insulin.  The next it was not.  Her life, and ours, changed forever with the mysterious shutting down of her relevant cells.
She and my wife went to the hospital, where they remained for three days.  And, that was the least of it.  She’ll be pinpricking her finger and giving herself shots for as long as she lives.
Something similar happened to a parishioner who was healthy and living a normal life on Friday.  Saturday, he slipped on the ubiquitous ice, cracked his skull, and underwent emergency brain surgery.  He is in critical condition, fighting for his life.
Read the rest here.

Trials of trust

This is for you who are going through times of great darkness and/or suffering:

“Hope and trust grow and increase only by trial, suffering, danger, sorrow, and even if it comes, horror.  For this reason, darkness is an essential part of the spiritual journey–darkness of many kinds.”

“Some have called this trust the greatest act of worship we can perform, because it unites us in a more realistic way with the mystery of Christ.” (Fr. Benedict Groeschel)

I thank all of you, on behalf of the Church, all of you who are offering the trials, dangers, even horrors to God as an act of worship.  May God sustain you and give you hope.

To look at Him who is looking at you

A fascinating way of looking at holiness, and not necessarily an easy one:

Holiness consists in enduring God’s glance.  It may appear mere passivity to withstand the look of an eye; but everyone knows how much exertion is required when this occurs in an essential encounter.  Our glances mostly brush by each other indirectly, or they turn quickly away, or they give themselves not personally but only socially.  So too do we constantly flee form God into a distance that is theoretical, rhetorical, sentimental, aesthetic, or most frequently, pious.  Or we flee from him to external works.  And yet, the best thing would be to surrender one’s naked heart to the fire of this all–penetrating glance.  The heart would then itself have to catch fire, if it were not always artificially dispersing the rays that come to it as through a magnifying glass.  Such father-sonenduring would be the opposite of a Stoic’s hardening his face: it would be yielding, declaring oneself beaten, capitulating, entrusting oneself, casting oneself into him.  It would be childlike loving, since for children the glance of the father is not painful: with wide-open eyes they look into his.  Little Thérèse–great little Thérèse–could do it.  Augustine’s formula on the essence of eternity: videntem videre–‘to look at him who is looking at you.’  (Hans Urs Von Balthasar, The Grain of Wheat)

One child was blind.

A beautiful excerpt from Michael O’Brien’s A Cry of Stone which illustrates well my last post.

In the drowsy sun of an autumn afternoon, she sat sketching the brightly colored trees in a little park not far from the house.  The walkways were temporarily deserted and at the moment when she felt most grateful for this haven of peace, a noise of galloping hoofs thundered around a curve in the path.  A rushing shape approached through piles of red leaves, scattering them left and right . . . .

Rose tore her eyes from her drawing to see two gasping little girls running hand in hand.  They went past at a tremendous clip, leaving in their wake a whir of whipped air, spiraling leaves, and a stream of sound like a long, pure note, as if they were humming together.

One child was blind.  Her eyes were gouged and scarred, her head nodding in a sightless headlong plunge, her face intent on nothing save the grip of her companion’s hand the unsuspected thickness of air, and the taste of utter exhilaration.  On the face of her seeing friend were other ecstasies–large, open, race-horse eyes, the panting thoroughbred power of giving the impossible thing.  The seeing girl had bestowed upon her blind friend a different form of sight, the feeling of wind on skin, of small unused muscles pumping at catastrophic speed, the awesome pitch through treacherous air that always contained within it the threat of collision, and the promise of soaring.

There is my soul, thought Rose.  O, O, ay, ay, that I might trust what you are doing with me in this rushing darkness.

If you are that blind child, put your full trust in the One holding your hand.