And a little bit more from Peter Kreeft’s book, before I go:
97. The Burning I
Prayer is not only conversation, it is transformation. It is not only light, it is fire. And the closer you get to Him, the hotter the fire gets. Words begin to melt. The first word that melts in His presence is the word “I”. That is His unique name. The closer you get to Him, the harder it is to begin a sentence with “I”. It melts in the fire of “thou.”
104. How to Be Wiser, Happier, and Better in Seven Minutes
If you’re not interested in these three products, don’t read this. If you are in the market for them but skeptical about getting them in seven minutes, read on.
The answer is three words: count your blessings. It’s so simple it’s embarrassing.
I mean this literally. Just thank God for seven specific blessings. Don’t ask Him for anything, just thank Him.
If you want a structure, here is one: tell God you are grateful for the following seven specific things. (They can be small things; small things are best because we don’t usually notice them.)
- one specific, concrete thing in the world
- one specific, concrete thing in your life
- one specific event in the world
- one specific event in your life
- one specific person in the world
- one specific person in your life
- one attribute, aspect, or deed of God himself
More from Peter Kreeft:
69. Therapy for Fear
When you feel afraid, look at the very first thing you see, right there in front of you: some small thing like stone or a finger or a bug. Look at it, don’t just think about looking at it. Really look. Take time. Take a whole minute.
And listen. You might hear something in it or behind it whispering some big secret to your big secret mind, some secret of which it is one of the billions of messengers, the secret of a beauty bigger than the universe, of which everything is a tiny part, including this little thing right in front of you.
Now this thing you are afraid of, this, too, is a little thing. And so are you.
God loves little things and takes care of them. Sparrows, hairs from your head.
He is bigger. He is stronger.
I love this one!
#81. Last Resort
Sometime the only possible solution to a problem that has you ont he verge of self-inflicted baldness or holes in teh wall is the following prescription:
1. ten deep breaths
2. a hot bath
3. one large glass of good wine
4. and a good night’s sleep
After patience, philosophy, and prayer all seem to fail, try listening to your body.
Peter Kreeft wrote a book called Before I Go, Letters to Our Children About What Really Matters. Any of you who have read him are probably as impressed as I am with the scope of his topic matter as well as the excellence of his writing. This book was written specifically for his own children. I would love to share some of his shorter entries with you over the next couple of days. I’ll start with #140 and #141:
140. Pages Stuck Together
These two pages of my little notebook stuck together, so I can’t write on them. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is to remind us that we don’t know the reason.
141. How Communion Works
In it God says to you: Put the lips of your faith to my heart and drink my blood. It alone will save your life. I give my life for yours in this holy exchange, this holy communion. I suck the sin, the poison, out of your heart, if you let me. Open your heart to my lips and I will do it. And open your lips to my heart and I will give you a blood transfusion.
Okay, just one more:
124. Surfing Wisdom
Life is made of waves. (Everything is.) It comes in crests and troughs. It’s easy to ride the crests; the real test is the troughs. Expect them. Ride them out. That’s part of our job description. Imagine a fire fighter who was surprised, angry, and resentful every time the fire alarm bell rings.
To be continued . . .
I am just beginning a novel by Peter Kreeft: An ocean Full of Angels. One section I read today reminded me of a concept I have blogged about before: the idea that everything created is a revelation of God, if we can but look for it. The narrator of the book is describing a small island he lives on off the coast of Boston:
Tiny Nahant is a complete world that can teach you everything you need to know, everything the whole planet can teach. The rocks teach you fidelity. The waves teach you the relentless, unceasing heartbeat of love. The winds teach you the power of the invisible. The high cliffs teach you to hope. The caves teach you that all things have a dark and buried side. The grass teaches you humility. The sun teaches you glory. The sand teaches you time. The trees teach you to think tall. The ants and bees teach you industry. The flowers teach you the morality of superfluity, the wild adventure of hospitality, and the beauty of prodigality. The seasons teach you that change and stability are two sides of the same reality. The night teaches you mystery and the day teaches you mindfulness. The tiny town teaches you modesty. And the surrounding sea teaches you that you are rocked at every moment int he arms of a giant angel.
But you learn all these things here only because you learn the precious Lesson One that my Mama used to call “hushing”: the wisdom of slowing down, getting all quiet inside, and entering the holy silence, where you can listen. I believe this is the single most potent of all learning arts. Most follies, of both thought and deed, cannot endure that place, that holy silence. Addictions, aggressions, and aggravations fall out of your soul like birds with broken wings, when the air is fresh with silence. . . .
It means nothing mystical or esoteric. Just listen. Don’t listen for anything, just listen. You must learn to listen, for listening is life’s second greatest art. Only loving is greater. But listening well is the best aid to loving well.
May you find the time, however small, to listen, to listen to God in all that you encounter today.
Hope to see you at Witnesses to Hope tonight!
A challenge from Peter Kreeft:
No one who ever said to God, “Thy will be done,” and meant it with his heart, ever failed to find joy–not just in heaven, or even down the road in the future in this world, but in this moment at every moment. Every other Christian who has ever lived has found exactly the same thing in his own experience. It is an experiment that has been performed over and over again billions of times, always with the same result.
Try it for yourself.
“Everything is grace.” A phrase uttered by St. Thérèse when she was not able to receive the Eucharist when she was dying. I can’t say that that’s the first thing that comes to my mind when things go in a direction different than I would like–like they already are today. 🙂 Pray for me, Thérèse. Pray for us. May God’s grace meet us right where we are.
If we love God, we will understand that everything is grace, that Job’s sores were grace, that Job’s abandonment was grace, that even Jesus’ abandonment (‘My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?) was grace. Even the delay of grace is grace. Suffering is grace. The cross is grace. The grave is grace. . . . (Peter Kreeft, Making Sense Out of Suffering, p. 144)
Christ is not the solution to our problems; He is the giver of our problems.
I give spiritual direction to quite a few women, and we frequently wrestle with what to do with hard situations and how they fit into God’s will. Perhaps one of the hardest is children who have strayed from the faith. I am currently reading Peter Kreeft’s Jesus-Shock and came across this section in one of his “7 beginnings”, in the seventh to be exact. I think it proposes a very true and helpful perspective:
Christ is not, ultimately, our solution. (Is your lover your “solution”?) He is our divine Lover and Lord. All the “problems” of our life are part of His marriage to us, His lovemaking, His foreplay. As Francis Thompson wrote in his classic poem “The Hound of Heaven,” “Is my gloom, after all, shade of His hand outstretched caressingly?”
All things in life must be that, becasue He is not relative to them, they are relative to Him. Everything is, for He is God, and God is the absolute.
He is not the solution to our problems; He is the giver of our problems. Our problems are His tasks and our opportunities, His teaching and our education, His will and our sanctification. Whether they are as small as a dropped earring or as large as a death or (worse) a divorce, everything is somewhere on that love-line that runs from Him to us. He is our Universal Other, the One we are always in dialog with, the One pulling at the other end of the line. Whether we see it or not, whether we believe it or not, we always struggle with Him, not with our problems, our lives, our deaths, our friends, or our families. They are on the line with us; He is the One at the end of the line. Do you have a child who is dead, or who has done something awful, or who is in terrible trouble? (No problem, no “locked door,” can be bigger than that for a parent.) Christ is not a mere means to the end of solving your problem and relieving your sorrow. Your problem, however big it is (or however small), is His wise and loving will to you, even though it may not look wise or loving. It is His deliberate permissive will. And your response to it is your response to Him.
I encourage you to read through that again and to linger on “He is our divine Lover” . . .