Monday, September 10, 2007

The Spirituality Of Windchimes

When I woke up very early on Sunday morning I could smell my granddaughter's hair as she lay on the pillow between my wife and me. I gently slid out of bed hoping to not wake her. I dressed and did all my other morning chores in the dark. I quietly left the house for my monthly trip to the monastery. With coffee cup in hand I drove down the highway in a gentle rain. As daylight approached and I left the interstate for the more solitary Highway 245, I realized that fog covered the land and hills. The fog enhanced my solitude and deepened it. I settled in for a relaxing drive. Soon I was at the home of my friend, Father Dennis. Sometimes I stop at his home for mass so that he has a congregation of one. When the two of us have mass together, it is simple and prayerful. He does the priest stuff and I do everything else. Instead of a homily, we have a dialogue. Afterwards I headed to the monastery for my monthly gathering. We had some new folks in the group that generated some wonderful and deep conversation. Much of the conversation made me think back to the men's retreat I attended a few weekends ago. During that time, and yesterday, much was said about pain, suffering, and adversity. We all know these things exist in life. Life, not being fair, doesn't divide these things up equally. Some seem to have more than others and few are deserving. One thought I keep having is that we can become overwhelmed with pain, suffering, and adversity to the point we begin to believe this is all life has to offer. A relationship with God, and the spiritual journey, can benefit greatly from our pain. However, I think it is important to remember the JOY is also a part of the spiritual life. The contemplative life is a life lived with a grateful heart. In, around, and through our pain, we must also be open to joy. In our discussion at the monastery someone said that Thomas Merton, who lived at Gethsemani, was so in tune with the spiritual life that he was like a wind chime. I think this means that he was so open to the experience of God that the most subtle movements of grace moved him towards God and joy like a gentle breeze causes a wind chime to play beautiful notes. May we all be like wind chimes in our lives! When I left the monastery there was still a slight misting of rain. By the time I neared Interstate 65, it was like driving under Niagara Falls. Between the rain and the spray from semi trucks I could barely see enough to drive. As soon as I got off the interstate, it started to clear up. When I finally got home, the little girl I left sleeping in my bed in the early morning greeted me with a smile and a big hug. Now that was joyful!

Over the weekend we celebrated my daughter in law's birthday. We went to dinner on Saturday night. It was Chloe's first experience of a Japanese steakhouse and hibachi grill. The four foot flame that shot from the grill when the chef started cooking definitely got her attention as did all the theatrics used to make our meal. We can now add fried rice to the list of Chloe's favorite foods. She even used chop sticks!

Finally.....I was one of several thousand who did the Alzheimer's Memory walk. Most of my extended family, including my mother and father, were also there. It was a great experience for all of us and approximately $300,000 was raised to fight Alzheimer's. My thanks to those of you who made a contribution.

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