Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blue Cloud Abbey

For those of you who like to keep up with happenings at Blue Cloud Abbey, the Happenings page is back.



We are afraid of emptiness. Spinoza speaks about our "horror vacui," our horrendous fear of vacancy. We like to occupy-fill up-every empty time and space. We want to be occupied. And if we are not occupied we easily become preoccupied; that is, we fill the empty spaces before we have even reached them. We fill them with our worries, saying, "But what if ..."

It is very hard to allow emptiness to exist in our lives. Emptiness requires a willingness not to be in control, a willingness to let something new and unexpected happen. It requires trust, surrender, and openness to guidance. God wants to dwell in our emptiness. But as long as we are afraid of God and God's actions in our lives, it is unlikely that we will offer our emptiness to God. Let's pray that we can let go of our fear of God and embrace God as the source of all love.

Henri Nouwen Society

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

more of God's art from Monticello

as we await the next snow storm

Night Prayer

Yesterday evening I attended Night Prayer at St. Matthew's. It was a most enjoyable & spiritual experience that I would recommend to everyone, regardless of Christian denomination. The following is a brief introduction from last night's bulletin:

Night Prayer at St. Matthew's is based on Compline, the ancient monastic prayers at the close of the day, as expressed in the Night Prayer liturgy from the New Zealand Prayer Book, with additions from a variety of ancient and modern traditions, and including silence and a touch of whimsy. Night Prayer at St. Matthew's is different from whatever you may be accustomed to and is intended to encourage you to deepen the way you relate to God through prayer.

The service is led by Duke Addiks and lasts about 1/2 hour. It was certainly a blessing to me and I encourage you to visit. The services are at 7 p.m.; the church is at 2136 Carter Ave., St. Paul, MN, near the State Fair Grounds. To access St. Matthew's web site, click here. I will be posting excerpts from the service during the next few days.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007


Whatever happened to "love your neighbor?"

"There's a storm coming?"

"Are those snowflakes?"

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

prayers for Abbot Thomas

I learned today that Abbot Thomas' operation (see our Feb. 14 post) went well and he is back at the Abbey recovering. Please keep him in your prayers.

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more of God's art from Monticello




fake faith

One of the problems of the weakening of traditional religion is the emergence of fake religions. ... Some strands of today's American evangelicalism are as phony and as fake as any atheistic alternative from the last century. The "Prosperity Gospel," for example, is not Christianity. It's a form of capitalist self-help under-pinned by emotional manipulation, legitimized by the patina of Christian scripture. Similarly, a Christian faith that is primarily about politics and social policy is not authentic faith either: it's Christianism, not Christianity. That's one reason, I think, that non-fundamentalist Christians should stay in established traditional churches and resist the fundamentalist onslaught. Institutions matter. Religion matters. A society that severs the two is prone to dangerous bouts of ill-considered zeal and far-too ideological politics. We're not there yet. But the danger signs are flashing red.
-- Andrew Sullivan

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Memorable moment at Ash Wednesday service, Cross of Glory Lutheran, Mounds View, MN

Imposition of ashes:

Remember you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.

God's art

When my friend, Les, called last night to see if I would be interested in joining him in Monticello to photograph the Trumpeter Swans, I, of course, had to say, "Yes" -- especially since Les promised a bright, sunny morning. We did see some sun and quite a few birds (although many appear to have left already, compared to a month or so ago). The picture on the right is of one of the homeowners who has set up an elaborate feeding system for the hundreds, if not thousands, of birds that take refuge here during the winter.

I will be posting some more pictures as soon as I can edit them. The one advantage of shooting digital is that extra pictures do not cost you anything. The disadvantage is that I tend to shoot a lot. (This morning's count was 640.)

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looking southerly along the Mississippi



Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Yes, Blessinem is the name of these wheels available for your car -- provided it takes a 22x9.5 size. For more info, click here. I'll leave it to your imagination as to who probably has them on order.

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Monday, February 19, 2007


Almighty God, we ask you to grant us
that our minds may be turned to what is pleasing to you
and that our words and actions may follow.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

the light that fills the world

I think over again my small adventures.
My fears.
Those small ones that seemed so big.
For all the vital things I had to get and to reach.
And yet there is only one great thing, the only thing.
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.

an Inuit traditional poem

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Friday, February 16, 2007


Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you;
All things are passing;
God never changes;
Patience gains all things;
Whoever possesses God,
Lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.

-- Teresa of Avila


Thursday, February 15, 2007

doubt & faith

The church offered me a second insight: that faith doesn't mean that you don't have doubts. You need to come to church precisely because you are of this world, not apart from it; you need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away – because you are human and need an ally in your difficult journey.
It was because of these newfound understandings that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and affirm my Christian faith. It came about as a choice, and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.

-- Barack Obama

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

prayer request

Please remember Abbot Thomas of Blue Cloud Abbey in your prayers; he underwent brain surgery this morning.

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Valentine's Day

The origins of Valentine's Day, like the origins of love itself, are somewhat obscure — a combination of myth, history, destiny, chance and marketing. Read more

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

the value of nonsense

Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
-- Carl Sagan


Sunday, February 11, 2007

bread for the soul & body

As you know from my posts, I am a fan of Henri Nouwen. One of his first books I read was The Genesee Diary in which he describes his decision-making process on whether to become a Trappist monk at Genesee Abbey. One of the Abbey's fund raising projects is baking bread. When I had read that it was now available on the web, of course I had to order some. It is very good, although rather expensive by the time you take into account shipping. You can check it out at the Bread Store by clicking here. Do note that they are in the process of revising their order system; I no longer see the 3-loaf package that I ordered.

The following is a quote from the Genesee Diary:
True contemplatives, then, are not the ones who withdrew from the world to save their own soul, but the ones who enter into the center of the world and pray to God from there.

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Friday, February 09, 2007


"YES, it's still cold!"



Benedictine advice: "Pray as you can, not as you can't."


Thursday, February 08, 2007

God's art from my window

American Tree Sparrow

"Wanna throw down
some of those seeds?"



Legalism is corrupting many of our churches today. Rick Warren provides a very good summary of the problem. Click here.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What is our purpose?

The bristlecone pine lives for two thousand years.
The morningglory but for a day.
Each fulfills its purpose.

-- Japanese saying


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

special delivery for your prayers

It's just $5 or $10, and you get eternal life. With the lottery, you pay that amount and what do you get? A piece of paper. This is much better value.
Hanan Achsaf, chairman of Pray Over IP (Internet Protocol), a Web-based service that delivers prayers to holy sites in Israel.

love may not be approval

We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. God doesn't approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God's love. Evil does not belong to God.

God's unconditional love means that God continues to love us even when we say or think evil things. God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God's ever-present love.

-- Henri Nouwen

Monday, February 05, 2007

one with God

In fact if a soul is completely dominated by the will of God, God's will becomes the "principle of activity" which moves and directs the soul in all its actions. In this state the two wills, the will of God and the will of the soul, will now have become one, and this one will which has now become the will of the soul is in fact the divine will and the soul will abandon all other choice.
-- John of the Cross

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sadly, too often true


Sunday, February 04, 2007

more of God's art outside my window

"They should call it IceBowl Sunday, if you ask me!"


"It's 7 below zero!"


Saturday, February 03, 2007

God's art outside my window

"Yes, it's -9 degrees!"




Friday, February 02, 2007


If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action, God will hear everything that he asks.
-- Abba Zeno

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

food for thought

The kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of love, of peace; the kingdom of justice, of solidarity, [of] brotherhood; the kingdom of socialism. This is the kingdom of the future of Venezuela.
-- Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela

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