faith


The Beauty of Silence 2

I love St. Mother Teresa’s “The Fruit of…” prayer –

The Fruit of Prayer and Flower 11x14

(image credit: Erika Marie)

It’s a recipe Mother Teresa whipped up for us as a guide for how to live a fruitful and abundant life.

I’m sure she wrote it as a step-by-step  guide but I mistakenly looked at it like a list of ingredients to collect in no particular order.  I tend to skim right over the fruit of silence bud and dive head-first into service activity, failing to realize the significance of each “fruit” and its deliberate position in the prayer.

I busy myself with so much “service”, thinking I’m doing all these good things with love before falling flat on my face, wondering why I feel no peace from all this doing. 

God has a way of subtly – or sometimes not so subtly –  getting me to see what’s missing.  I’m sure He tries to get me to see but it’s hard to catch my attention when I’m buzzing around 100 miles per hour.

Sorry, God, I’m too busy serving you to pay attention to you or hear what you’re trying to tell me.

Then –

BAM!

I hit a brick wall and, in my dazed confusion – look to God and indignantly ask why He didn’t warn me about the wall.

Silence.

Oh, so now that I’m finally listening, You’re not going to say anything?

Chirp. Chirp.

Oh…I slowly catch on. I stop listening for a big booming voice, or looking for His answer written clearly in the sky. And then I hear it…

Silence. 

In my zeal to serve God, I dismissed the importance of seeing Mother Teresa’s “fruits” as a step-by-step guide in which each step cannot be accomplished without first cultivating the preceding fruit.

Silence leads to Prayer, Prayer opens our hearts for the fruit of Faith to grow, Faith points us to Love, Love moves us to Service, and, only after those five fruits are fully grown, blossomed, and habitually cultivated, can the fruit of Peace begin to take root in our souls and our lives.

After the heart-wrenching experience of my dad’s death and the deafening numbness of the grief that’s followed, I really couldn’t do anything but go back to that first branch,

The fruit of Silence is Prayer.

Like I shared about using the gift of time I have better, I lessened my commitments and activities and spent more time simply listening and allowing God’s gentle and healing Grace wash over me.  Over time, these moments of silence have become a prayer, a wordless but soul-filled conversation with the One who Loves me and Knows me. Through these moments of silence and prayer, He rolls my heart out and kneads a new kind of Faith in me, a refiner’s fire faith. Stronger, deeper, truer.

In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1: 6-7)

From this refiner’s fire – humbled, laid bare and still aching – we are finally ready to receive Love.

But what is Love?

Love is not a what, Love is a Who. And the Who is God.

God gives Love by ceaselessly giving Himself. In turn, we give Love by giving ourselves back to Him. We give ourselves to Him in silence, through prayer, with faith…and then – by giving Love, by giving God, to the people we encounter.

The wisdom of Mother Teresa’s prayer is that if we ignore the Silence, Prayer, and Faith steps, we’ll lack genuine love in our hearts and any acts of service become monotonous busy work to pass the time, avoid pain, or make ourselves feel better about being a “good” person.  All the “good work” we might do will lack long-lasting and fulfilling significance.

Anyone can do good things in the name of “service”; it takes prayer and faith to LOVE. 

When I use the time God’s given me to stop doing and just listen to God in the silence, in prayer, with faith, and through Love, I finally notice the buds of Peace poking up through my thawing heart, and in the hearts of those around me.


A Healing Goodbye to Our Dog 1

About three years ago, we welcomed our first dog into our family Bella.

Sadly, a few weeks ago, we had to let her go.

I had been resistant to getting a dog despite my husband’s and kid’s desire for a family dog. We had a chance to dog-sit Bella a couple times for our friends and loved her.

I told my husband, “Well, if we had a dog like Bella, then maybe we could get one.”

Then, one day, our friends told us that they were going to have to find another home for Bella and my ears perked up and I started thinking….hmmmm.

Long story short, one day, for Father’s Day, we brought Bella to our house and surprised everyone – especially my husband – when we told them she was ours to keep if we wanted. It didn’t take long for everyone to say, “Yes!”

Bella was about seven, we weren’t for sure, and so it was the perfect way to introduce our family to dog ownership. She was trained, wasn’t quite as energetic as a puppy but loved to play with all of us, even the toddler at the time, and she was used to being an outdoor dog – my main requirement.

We all grew to love Bella and, in the beginning, everyone did a good job helping to give her attention and care. Like most new things, the excitement wore down over time and she had a few bad habits we didn’t appreciate (chewing on kids’ toys, peeing in the house if we weren’t constantly watching her, eating her…nevermind that’s too gross.) Nevertheless, we all still loved having her, including me.

She was a good friend for me especially last year in the dream-like daze of intense grief. Sometimes I’d go outside and just sit on the back steps. She’d come up to me, tail wagging, and set her snout on my knee and beg me to stroke her. As I stroked her soft fur, it brought us both comfort. The repetitive action and the soothing texture calmed my mind and soothed my sorrowful heart. My Dad loved Bella so, in a way, I felt connected with him during those moments.

Whenever I was feeling frustrated and angry with myself or because of behavioral difficulties with the kids, I’d go out and throw the ball around with Bella or run around the yard with her  – providing her needed exercise and entertainment and me a positive release of my emotions.

Admittedly, she was so  laid back it was easy to take her for granted. One evening, after being gone for the day, we came back and I noticed her stomach area was suddenly very enlarged, which was unusual since she was always on the skinnier side of an average lab.

The next day, I noticed it even more and I remember sitting out on the back porch and rubbing her tummy like she loved so much. I gently pressed on it and could tell it was very hard and it made her uncomfortable, though she didn’t whimper or show any other obvious signs of pain.

However, there was something….familiar. I had felt this feeling before. The feeling of knowing, somehow, that death is close. I stroked her fur and scratched behind her ears and felt a foreboding sadness for her, and our family. Later that day, I went out to throw the ball around with her and noticed she didn’t seem interested. She’d run and get it and then slowly trudge back. With the last toss, she trotted over to get it but then dropped it back in the grass and sulked back to her favorite spot to lay down in the sun, as if she was saying, “I want to…but I just can’t anymore.”

The next morning, I brought her to the vet to see if we could figure out what was ailing her. After poking around and examining her, she determined the cause of her abdominal swelling was pretty serious.

“Possibly liver disease…or a cancerous tumor…,” I heard the vet gently explain.

I knew where the conversation headed and, to my surprise, I started tearing up as memories of sitting in a doctor’s office listening to the doctor briefly explain my Dad’s diagnosis suddenly flooded my mind.

Lung cancer….mutation….stage IV….incurable….

I looked at sweet Bella, peacefully ignorant to the meaning of our conversation, and felt pity and shame. She had probably been in pain for a little while now but, being the sweet mild-tempered dog that she was, just didn’t show it until now. I knew we could choose to go all out and try to “cure” her illness. I also knew this would be highly expensive and, as the vet agreed, had a low chance of success.  In the end, I left the clinic with Bella and a day’s worth of pain medicine for her.

That evening, my husband and I sat down with all the kids and Bella in our family room and shared what the vet told us about Bella. (another familiar scene) We gently explained why exploratory surgery or medicine most likely could not help her. Our oldest picked up on what the other option would be and cried out, “No, not that, we can’t do that to her!”

The younger boys picked up on her emotions and pretty soon everyone had tears in their eyes.  Gently, slowly, calmly, we explained that we needed to think of Bella and her pain. There was a lot of confusion and questions.

“But, I thought we weren’t supposed to kill?” Our oldest son, so practically and black-and-white minded, couldn’t quite understand how this could be ok.

“We all love Bella,” I said, “and we don’t want her to die….but we also don’t want her to be in so much pain. We can’t keep her alive for us and make her continue living a life of pain.”

They took these words in and it was the same oldest son, who usually struggles with showing empathy, who was the first to say, “I think we should do option two. So she isn’t in pain anymore.”

My heart swelled and broke all at once in that moment. My son grasped the reality of the situation and was able to appreciate what Bella really needed.

That night, we let Bella sleep in our daughter’s room, since she was struggling the most with the decision and because we didn’t want Bella to sleep on her own that night. Despite the pain medicine we’d given her, Bella was very restless. She wouldn’t sit or lay down in her bed no matter what we tried. In the morning, our daughter said Bella never went to sleep and kept pacing around the room.  Through that night, our daughter’s reluctance over having to let her go turned to a sorrowful acceptance. She had seen how much pain Bella was in and knew it wouldn’t be right to prolong her life just because we wanted to keep her with us longer.

We let the kids each have time to say tearful and quiet goodbyes to Bella before leaving for school, knowing she’d be gone when they came home. My husband and I brought her to the vet together and they kindly showed us into a room. The vet gently and compassionately explained the procedure and let us know we were welcome to stay for however long or little we wanted.  We said we’d probably only stay for the first part – the Valium that puts her into a relaxed state before the final injection.

We had a few more moments alone with Bella while they prepared the medications. Though still in obvious pain, Bella stood alert by the door, her ears perked up listening to the sounds of other dogs or cats and people there for regular check-ups. It struck me, how she stood in front of me then with no idea what awaited. In that moment, I felt a conflicted sorrow.

Is this ok? To purposefully end her life instead of letting her die naturally?

I tried again to get her to sit but she wouldn’t, her abdominal pain too intense now. She looked up at me with kind and loyal eyes, and I stroked her back and rubbed her ears like she loved so much. In that moment, looking at her, I felt a great sense of gratitude. 

“Thank you, Bella, for being such a good dog for our family. ”

The door opened and the vet and her assistant came in. They laid a white towel on the floor and had Bella stand on it. Gently, slowly, with soothing words, the vet injected the Valium in. Within seconds, Bella let out a low groan, as if she was saying, “Ahh…that feels good.” Then, she sat down – the first time she’d done that since the day before – and then her legs gave in and her body melted down to the floor as my husband and I gently stroked her. The vet explained that she was now in a deep sleep.

I felt happy for her, relieved of her pain and finally able to sleep after the past restless nights. This was the point we had decided earlier that we’d leave but now that we were there, we couldn’t leave, we wanted to stay with her until the end.

The vet quietly injected the final medication. We stayed with her as her body went limp, her eyes closed, and her chest stopped swelling in and out. I wiped my eyes  filled with tears I couldn’t contain. In those moments, my body was with Bella in the vet’s office but my mind was back in the hospital room watching the same process happen to my dad’s body a little over a year ago.

I felt like a hole in time opened up in that hospital room, all other noises outside vanished and a warm glow of light vignetted us.  The seas of time parted and swirled around us, the whirlpool of eternity spiraled in, gently pulling and guiding my dad’s soul through the “birth canal” of death into new life.  Once his soul passed through, his heart deafeningly silent and his chest formidably motionless, the whirlpool lifted out, the warm glow of light faded, and the seas of time crashed down around us again, pushing us down into the intense pain of shock and grief.

The nurse came back in the room and put her stethoscope on his still chest. I asked, “Is it done?” She nodded and gently confirmed, “yes.”

Back in the vet’s office, the vet put her stethoscope to Bella’s chest, paused, then quietly confirmed, “She’s gone, at rest and in no more pain now.”

We nodded our heads and let out long sighs.  Slowly I wiped my tears, we offered our final thank you’s and gave Bella one last stroke goodbye. Then, we stood up, opened the door, and walked back into the world of time.

We drove back home in silence, both of us struck again by the jarring finality of death and surprised by our grief. After all, she was “just a dog”. But…she had been our dog. And, in the way only animals can, she loved us and we loved her. We hated that we had to do that, wishing she could have gotten better on her own, but accepting that, for her sake and not ours, we had to let her go.

I hated that my dad got sick, that he had to leave us so soon before we had barely begun to process his out-of-the-blue diagnoses. In the 24 hours I spent with him in the hospital, I saw his pain and his incredible discomfort. The more we tried to save him, the further away he sank. Through a torturous night, I began to see the reality of his prognosis.  By the morning, I knew we’d need to let him go, for his sake even if not for ours.

And so it is, with life and death:

The Lord giveth…and the Lord taketh.  (Job 1:21)

He blesses us with the gift and joy of life….and then, after a time, He retrieves life – His beloved creatures – back into Himself where we ultimately belong.

Thank you, Lord for the gift of Bella. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of my Dad. Take them into you, and bless our mourning hearts with your loving and comforting mercy. 


It Just Takes Time 4

It just takes Time

It just takes time [for the heart to heal].

A friend whispered this to me during my adoration hour and I let the phrase seep into me and guide my thoughts.

What does that mean, “it takes time”?

Usually, when I hear this phrase I think of time as abstract and passive. But this time I envisioned time as a tangible and active material object – like a salve I could apply to heal my internal wounds.

I pondered this a while and realized God has answered my prayers for healing by giving me time, loads of time. But I often squander it with chronic busyness to avoid the pain and make that time go by faster.

Yet, what I’ve discovered, as many others have, is you can’t rush the healing from grief or other life crises and you can pretend the pain away all you want but it only buries it deeper and deeper, making it harder to heal and causing it to fester.

I knew this intellectually but emotionally I felt lost, confused and didn’t really know what else to do but to “keep going” and “stay busy”.

Everyone complains about not having enough time to do what they really want or really need to do. But, in reality, we all have the same exact amount of time every day. It’s how much we try to pack into a single day that makes it feel longer or shorter.

This year, I decided I needed to listen to my friend’s advice and fully embrace the gift of time and rediscover joy and hope in the little grace-filled moments of everyday life.  

I’ve lessened my personal and family commitments, said no more to extrafamilial activities and yes more to spending time just being with my family and friends.

One of the biggest changes I made was the decision to limit my time on Facebook and social media in general and, as you may have noticed, a break from writing and keeping up with the blog as much. (Though I’ve missed that!)

I’m thankful for the ability to stay connected with family and friends and do agree that social media has become an important communication tool. That said, I felt I had become so attached to all my social media connections that I’d find myself scrolling or “just checking” so many times throughout the day that I didn’t even know I was doing it anymore.

Like a cigarette, checking Facebook on my phone was my “go-to” when I felt stressed and overwhelmed with life or just didn’t feel like doing the dishes or dealing with yet another squabble or whiny complaint.

Instead of actively and personally engaging with friends and family, I felt more like a passive friend, peering into their lives through status updates and pictures they shared but not really taking the time to know how they are really doing.

I knew I needed to pray more but whenever I had a few moments of quiet time, instead of praying I’d get my phone out and “just check” and end up using all my rare moments to myself scanning through others’ lives instead of “checking in” with God and opening my heart to Him. I wasn’t sure how I would spend my time without Facebook, and that’s when I knew I needed to uninstall it. If I couldn’t remember or imagine what my life would be like without it, it was time to give it up.

I decided I wanted – needed – to remove this from my life, or at least greatly limit the time I spent using social media. I uninstalled Facebook from my phone, leaving the Messenger, Groups and Facebook page app so I could still stay connected with specific people and groups that use Facebook to plan get togethers. I didn’t give it up completely, I still check it on my computer every now and then and I usually get emails if someone tags me.

The morning after I uninstalled it I felt…free. Like a huge weight had been lifted and I was no longer chained, though I didn’t even realize I had been.

It was a little hard, and still is sometimes, feeling like I’m probably missing out on important information – or not so important. I also worry that people may get the wrong idea and think I just don’t care about them anymore or think I’m somehow “better than”.

I do care very much and most definitely do not think of myself as “better than” anyone. The problem is, as much as I love the ability to share glimpses of our lives with those we truly do care about, I still feel dissatisfied and empty after scrolling through my newsfeeds.  It’s because I desire a deeper more personal connection than what social media can offer.

I want to know how my friends and family really are and listen openly to their thoughts with a personal conversation. 

By limiting my commitments and spending less time hypnotized by a screen, it’s like my eyes are slowly reopening and seeing the tangible world around me again.

Shortly after my dad passed away, I shared with a friend that I didn’t know what else to do with my days except fill them with activity,  “I mean, what am I gonna do, just sit and stare out the window all day?”

“Maybe.” She wisely responded.

Hmmm, yeah…maybe.

Instead of rushing around from one activity to another, frantically working to meet deadline after deadline, I’ve turned the speed dial of my days wayyyy  down.

And guess what? I feel like I have more time to do the things I need to do with more joy and more time to do things I like and which are good for my health with less guilt.

I’ve had more time to meet friends for coffee or playdates, call or write letters to friends I don’t get to see often. I’ve reworked my exercise goals to focus on rebuilding my “core” strength (in more than one sense of that word) instead of escaping my sorrow with only high-intensity workouts. I have more time to plan and prepare simple yet nutritious meals and #eatmoresalads. 😉

I try to take a short nap in the afternoons so I can devote my attention to the kids after school with more energy and I’ve started cooking as much ahead during the day so I’m available to help with homework without as many distractions.

I spend more time reading and creating on my own and with my family. I’ve been able to spend more focused time with my husband to talk with each other instead of rushing off to evening packed with activities or only sitting and staring at our phones or computers the whole evening.

Like I said before, at first I worried I might miss out by not checking in on Facebook throughout the day. Now, I see I was missing out on those raw yet profound moments of life that were starting to pass me by without my awareness.

And sometimes, I just sit and stare out the window and allow my mind to ponder, remember, and pray.

Yes, time heals.


He is Our King, we His Kingdom

I’m a people watcher. I like to observe people’s behaviors, hear their thoughts, and try to discover who they are.

The ways of the world intrigue me, fascinate, and bewilder.

We, humans, are so interesting – unique, yet predictable, innovative yet, repetitive.

Sometimes, I feel like we are in the same story over and over again. The actors and scenery change but the backdrop and main storyline stay essentially the same.

For example, whenever an election year comes and new candidates are elected, there are reactions from all “sides”. Obviously, the ones who voted for the winners celebrate with great excitement filled with “hope” for a better future, a better country, better jobs, better healthcare, better everything.  Those who voted for the candidates who lost wake up the next morning in a fog, dejected and depressed and filled with a deep sense of foreboding for the future, for the country, for jobs, for healthcare, basically everything is going to be a disaster and all life, as they knew it, is over.

Happens every. single. time. Over, and over.

Through all our human history, leaders have risen and fallen.  People repeatedly put all their faith and hope in one person or a certain group of people, hoping this one might be the one that finally brings order, peace, and security.

Occasionally, we’ll get leaders who fulfill those dreams well – for a time – until the winds of change blow in and the people decide they want something different and better.

Recently, I’ve been spending more time reading the books of the Bible. I’ve been paying closer attention, seeing beyond the words and noticing the recurring theme weaved in and through its pages. The Bible is really an amazing book, if you think about it beyond its religious value. It’s the only book, that I know of, that compiles such a great span of human history – human anthropology and psychology – in one place.

It’s composed of many individual stories, written from the earliest years of humanity through millenniums of time and human experience. Each book, though written by different authors, differentiated by various times and cultures, is essentially the same story written over and over with different characters and scenery.

A person, or a group of people are lost, hungry, oppressed or suffering, hoping and waiting for someone to save them. 

Interestingly, when that help comes, it’s often scrutinized, doubted, and finally rejected by the majority – especially by the current leadership of the time.  We see it over and over in the Old Testament and by the time the “Promised Savior” does come, the people are so hardened and jaded they do not recognize him or accept him.

The people were expecting a king – a worldly general – to come and physically rescue them from the oppression of the Romans. But Christ did not come to us as a king of this world, but for another.

My kingdom does not belong to this world… (Jn 18:36)

Today, we, the Church, celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. Admittedly, in the past, I’m not sure if I really grasped the significance of this feast day or considered how appropriate its timing is.

In the Church liturgical year, it marks the end of a liturgical year – the “Year of Mercy” – as we prepare for a new year beginning on the first Sunday of Advent next Sunday. (Yes, already!)

For our country, and as what goes on here affects the rest of the world, this marks a time of transition from the current leaders of our government to the newly elected candidates.

Once again, people from all “sides” are either very excited or at least satisfied with the election results, believing the elected leaders will bring a hopeful future; or, they are incredibly dissatisfied, stunned and even depressed thinking of what these new leaders mean for the future.

I found it very interesting when I read Catholic Culture’s explanation that, “The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism…intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ’s royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations.”

Pope Pius XI saw the same problems in 1925 that we grapple with now. We all want a savior – someone who will make life easier, free-er, better.

But, like the people in 1925 and the Israelites thousands of years before us, we are looking in the wrong place, to the wrong people.

Christ, the God who became one of us, suffers with us, died and rose again in Glory – He. He is our King. He is our Lord and Master. He is our Savior, the only One who can really, truly, and completely satisfy our greatest needs and deepest desires.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t vote or try to improve our world by electing good leaders and establishing good laws and policies. The Holy Spirit works through all of us to bring goodness into the world.

And I guess that’s part of my point.

Aside from all the grumbling and protesting we hear leading up to and following each election, I’ve also noticed a recurring resolution each time:

Be the Change. Be the Good.

We look to Christ as the One, True King and Ruler of the world. And He, in turn, looks to us – to you and me – as the people who will proclaim Him to all the land. He elects us to carry out His Mission, to bring Truth, Beauty, Justice, and Love to the world.

He is our King. We are His Kingdom.

The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is among you. (Lk 17:20-21)

The leaders of the world will come and go, empires and nations will rise and fall, laws and policies will amend and adapt.

Christ, the King, remains, always. 

Christ King[1]


Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion #Book Review

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle

I visited and ate at the delicious Homegirl Cafe when on my “pilgrimage” with my brother in LA back in February and was immediately intrigued and impressed. I finally had the chance to read Fr. Boyle’s book, Tattoos on the Heart, a couple months ago.

I had no idea how much I would get out of this book and was blown away by his profound reflections on God, Love, and the Greatest Commandment:

“Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus (John 13:34)

Fr. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J. is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, a rehabilitation program for gang members.  You can read more of Fr. Boyle’s history here.  Long-story short, this guy knows everything there is to know about gangs – or at least he knows the important inside-out side of things better than anyone, aside from maybe the gang members themselves.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the book. I would say it was nothing like I expected yet so much of what I yearn for.  Like Fr. Boyle explains in the book, it’s not exactly a memoir, nor a history of Homeboy Industries per say, it’s a…song…a dance!…a beautiful piece of art hanging on the wall expressing all the ugliness and all the good  that makes our world so immensely and paradoxically beautiful. 

For many people, hearing about or seeing the terrible tragedy of gang violence is enough to send anyone running, hiding, or shaking their heads and think, “What a shame,” and then move on to whatever they were doing in the comfort and safety of their own lives.

I, admittedly, know very little of the history of the gang violence in LA and throughout our country but, from what I got from the book, it’s been bad. Real bad.  And Fr. Boyle was “stationed” right in the very heart of it all.

He thought he was sent there to bring Christ’s love to the people there but ended up learning about the true deep-down essence of Love not in spite of the gang members but because of them.

You know, most people, when they think of gang members or criminals, they easily cast them off as only that – criminals and “no good” people of society. The world doesn’t even see them as humans anymore – only monsters who have lost their souls without any chance for redemption. Once a gang member, always a gang member.

And I’m no better. I’ll admit if I found myself in the heart of LA’s “gang district”, I’d feel terrified.  I’ve been taught to “love everyone”, but it would be hard to look into a gang member’s eyes and look past the tattoos and threatening demeanor and not immediately assume the worst of that person or what he or she might do to me.

It’s so hard to see past the thick wall of our natural inclinations of self-preservation and prejudices.

I truly want to…I just don’t want to put my life,  or my family’s, in danger because of it.

But that’s exactly what Fr. Boyle did.

With Tattoos on the Heart, Fr. Boyle invites us to turn and look. Look beyond the scary. Look beyond the actions or “records”. Look beyond the outsides of people and see. See the person for WHO that person is. Not what they’ve done, not how they act, talk, or what they wear, who they associate with, their gender, age, demographics or ethnic appearance and really and truly look at who that person is, to his or her very core. 

And then, love that person.

You stand with the belligerent, the surly, and the badly behaved until bad behavior is recognized for the language it is: the vocabulary of the deeply wounded and of those whose burdens are more than they can bear.

That said, this book isn’t only about how to take Jesus’ Great Commandment to “love one another” to the ghetto or prisons. It’s a profound theology of love: God explains Love and Love explains God. 

[Leon Dufour said], “I have written so many books on God, but after all that, what do I really know? I think, in the end, God is the person you’re talking to, the one right in front of you.”

Reading this book came to me in a time of my spiritual life where I often feel like I have never desired God with such an intensity as I do now while, at the same time, with such a frustrating inability to reach Him and feel Him.

Tattoos on the Heart showed me the intimate  and subtle ways God works on the hearts of the wounded and showed me I need to allow myself to “marinate” in the Love of God, in His Mercy, in His quiet and healing presence. 

Tattoos on the heart page excerpt

Other quotes I jotted down from the book worthy of “marinating” in for a while:

Thomas Merton – “We discover our true selves in love.”

Thomas Merton –  “No despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there…We are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.”

Thich Nhatt Hahn, “our true home is the present moment…”

“[Bill Cain said] – ‘Living within the withinness of God.’ This is the intimate union and full promise of kinship that is being offered to us every second.

Breathe it in, breathe it out. The Lord is everything I want. A yes that means yes… Isaiah has God say: ‘Be glad forever and rejoice in what I create… for I create my people to be a delight.’… delighting is what occupies God, and God’s hope is that we join in. That God’s joy may be in us and this joy may be complete. We just happen to be God’s joy. That takes some getting used to.

Chew on that for a while:

YOU are God’s Joy!

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