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I cannot be humble unless I first know that I am good, and know that what is good in me is not my own, and know how easy it is for me to substitute an evil of my own choice for the good that is God’s gift to me.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island, Sentences on Hope

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The point in my life
where I began to believe
I was better than you
was the point where I forgot
or no longer believed
that God made us both
to be his children.

dw

Copyright © 2019, becomingflame.com

 

The Passing

I am the firstborn in my family:
if I had been an Egyptian,
it would have been me.

How would the passing, even the prospect, feel?
Were they afraid?
scoffing?
wondering?
hoping, maybe? some?

What would it be
to be swept up in the arms of Israel’s god,
the god of our slaves,
those stronger than we,
those whom we feared?

Why did Pharaoh destroy us for these
to whom we happily gave our treasures?
“Let them go!” we said; “set them free!”

But he would not and so came the destruction
of our land,
our crops,
our livestock,
our water.

What would it be to pass into,
to be swept up in the arms,
the strong arms,
of Israel’s God?

dw

Copyright © 2019, becomingflame.com

Photo by IV Horton on Unsplash

 

Today I learned that one of my dear blogging friends has passed. I don’t know of anyone who has written more eloquently and transparently about addiction, recovery, illness, and gratitude.

I will miss him, miss his gentle spirit coming through his writing, miss his responses to my posts, miss his encouraging words. I can’t imagine the loss his family feels. I’ve included a post on grief below – I hope if offers some comfort.

I’m trying to think of words to say how much I want you, each reader, to experience what I have through his writing. I can’t think of any grand way to say it…simple words will have to do: read his blog…really, I mean it. You won’t be sorry. I’ve added his last 10 posts to the sidebar of this post to get you started.

Robert, thank you for your friendship. I wish we could have met on this side, but I look forward to meeting you on the other. Grace and peace to you…

dw

man walking in rain with black umbrella Walking with grief

In Common

So many grieving
Damage recent and long past
Near and far away

dw
Copyright © 2018

For those of us who grieve, Andy Raine of the Northumbria Community has written,

“Do not hurry as you walk with grief; it does not help the journey. Walk slowly, pausing often: do not hurry as you walk with grief. Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden. Swiftly forgive; and let Christ speak for you unspoken words. Unfinished conversation will be resolved in him. Be not disturbed. Be gentle with the one who walks with grief. If it is you, be gentle with yourself. Swiftly forgive; walk slowly, pausing often. Take time, be gentle as you walk with grief.”

Claiborne, Shane. Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (p. 471). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

 

The devil believes in God but he has no God. The Lord is not his God…the damned have confirmed themselves in the belief that they cannot hope in God.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island, Sentences on Hope

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I spent many years believing in God, but not hoping in him. Oh, doctrinally, yes, of course I “hoped” in God: it was the right thing to do. Doctrinally correct, and I could site chapter and verse to back it up. But there is an imposter for hope that is grim and cynical and never really expects, never really hopes, that any good will come. God is not really good, doesn’t really love me – all that is beyond hope.

Believe me, I’ve been there, and am so grateful I’m not there now. Over many years, gradually letting my grip loosen about being “right”, I find I am wrong and loved – both. It’s no longer up to me earning something; it’s about coming to know that God cherishes me and will lead me like a parent leads a little child. And hope awakens, softness awakens, love awakens. It’s not a buried treasure I will never find; it’s right there in my hand if I want to grasp it, the hand of God reaching for mine.

Grace and peace and hope to you…

dw

Copyright © 2019, becomingflame.com

 

Upon our hope, therefore, depends the liberty of the whole universe. Because our hope is the pledge of a new heaven and a new earth, in which all things will be what they were meant to be.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island, Sentences on Hope

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If my hope

Is the toe hold

The universe needs

To stay on the face

Of liberty;

Though barely a seam,

May it remain

As steadfast

As the One

Who made it

The anchor

Of my soul.

dw

Copyright © 2019, becomingflame.com

 

Freedom is perfect when no other love can impede our desire to love God.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island, Sentences on Hope

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From John’s gospel, Chapter 8:

31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Kindle Locations 79992-79998). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Grace and peace and freedom to you…

dw

 

 

This is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil — disgust with the things we have misused and hatred of ourselves for misusing them.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island, Sentences on Hope

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That tree, you know the one,
where Eve got sucker punched
and Adam melted away,
didn’t even stand up for her,
distracted, maybe, by the spectre
of knowing her nakedness
apart from her soul,
thus beginning the dehumanizing
of one image of God by another,
the desecration of created things,
the discounting of God who made them;

That tree, you know the one,
that bides its time
while we distract ourselves
knowing the distraction will quiet
and we will one day stare and swallow
at the noose our own demand
to experience something other than God’s provision,
the difference between Good and Evil,
has tied for us –
we the condemner and the condemned;

That tree, you know the one,
where our discounted God
hung on our behalf
to show us pure Good,
to cut us free.

dw

Copyright © 2019, becomingflame.com