Hunger

Once my belly is filled,

The emptiness begins again,

As the distraction of my physicality ebbs; revealing a now familiar estuary,

Moistly moist,

But never to dry.

xx

Here, then, the longing begins again.

And my search for another place.

Unknown,

but always calling me out to sea.

xx

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The Pollinator

My time here seems limited.

But my addiction to experience,

And others,

Is Not.

xxx

So visits may be shortened,

Just doing the necessary,

Limiting the reflections, even conversations,

To something short.

xxx

Enough to remembrance the encounter,

And return to my savory.

xxx

In a continuous recall.

Lent … A Time to Reflect

Lent is a great time to reflect. We often look at how we are doing in our own spiritual life and how best we might be able to improve ourselves and our relationship with Christ. Noble goals and efforts. Some of you may have attended the Lenten retreat this week, led by Fr Paul Fagan, others may be on your own Lenten journey, perhaps helped by some written materials, or practices to help stimulate our active participation in this season.

My own season has started out with a slightly different bent than in previous years. I also have felt that I am in the driving seat as to what is on my “Lenten Bucket List” for the year. As a child, it might have been chocolate, which made Easter Sunday all the sweeter. Excuse the pun. In adulthood, I have tried to focus on issues which are character flaws, or a propensity to sin or deviate from the Word in some way or others. This year was different.

Instead of looking inward, which has been my wont in the past; I am being drawn to look at something different? How others see me, and my actions in the world? The cause and effect of my work in the Church, and my work as a manager in a retreat ministry setting? I must admit, after decades of managing projects and people I have often relied on others being focused on the same goals, creating a good work ethic and a positive (but truth filled) atmosphere as being enough. Now I am beginning to see that perhaps it is not.

While we all look for affirmation that our work in appreciated and understood, we sometimes don’t do that second “mirror check” to see if the traffic is still following us before we make the maneuver into the next lane. There may be someone in our blind spot who is not in the place we expected them to be.

While it can be simpler just to tell someone whether they are wrong, and not following the instructions, directions or guidance we give them, it may not be enough. Perhaps there have been years of practice in place which are now been put into question. Maybe some of the practices are there for a reason. And even if they are not, we should respect them for what they were at the time.

So, Lent this year will be a serious gaze into the lives of others around me; to see how I might appear to them if I was on the receiving end of my behavior, not just trying to correct what I think might need fixing.

St. Theresa of Avilia, the great mystic noted that God is present “in the pots and pans” of our lives, not just the special prayer times. It is there we often have the most encounters with others, so lets as ourselves the questions of how are we doing from the perspective of those around us. We might have a very different response than our own answer to this question.

THE UNBROKEN WORD

Can a photograph be a prayer?

During a recent retreat program this year, I briefly mentioned the prayer form known as Visio Divina, which means Divine Seeing. In the Catholic Church, we use visuals for just about everything to remind us and bring us into prayer with God. Crucifixes, statues, images, and paintings all fall into the category. Most of what is in the Church (images) have a theological, spiritual or ecclesiastical meaning. So what about those items in our everyday lives.

During the retreat, we looked at everyday items and discussed their relevance to our mission as Catholics. A water bottle, a journal, even a life jacket all can be handled and seen where God has created something which has purpose and meaning in our lives. I wonder if you notice everyday items in your life?

For myself, a photograph is something of value; often holding a spiritual significance. When we decide to take a photograph of someone or something, there is usually a meaning behind it. Perhaps we want to revisit that moment or situation? Maybe we want to share it with another, to bring this joy to another who cannot be there at the same time.

Imagine you were going to a desert island and you could bring three images with you? What would they be? Who would be in those images? Which images can you study and notice more than is there on first glance? We often see this in paintings, as we pry out or interpret the meaning of the artist. While we are looking at the image, we are also seeing the soul of the artist in some way; even if the artist did not intend it.

Perhaps this week we can look at some photographs and meditate on them. What are we seeing? Someone or something we love, or perhaps less so? What emotions does the photograph evoke? Love, desire, sacrifice, rejection, perhaps sadness. Take a moment and consider it. When you have come in contact with your feelings, then ask what God might be saying to me in this image, and in my reflecting on the image? Is God calling to me? What is that call?

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I am attaching an image which to many might seem meaningless. It was taken at Valyermo in the high desert, California. Not that is really relevant to its meaning.

As yourself a few questions about this image. What do the stones represent? Why are some out of focus? What did the photographer have in mind, when you might have passed by these everyday items?

Then perhaps, you can ask yourself the question. Can a photograph be a prayer? Do I have any photographs which I might consider to be a prayer?

Copyright 2019 Reflection and Photography Michael J. Cunningham O.F.S.

The Coded Raindrop

The Coded Raindrop

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Can there be something in the falling rain,

As it drops, what is it thinking,

Can rain even discern its purpose?

xxx

Perhaps I am a raindrop;

Or more than one,

Falling through life.

xxx

I wonder where I will land,

And what I might nourish …