Here and Hereafter A older man in a business suit sat across from me on the suburban train. He was reading William Taubman’s recent hefty biography of Mikhail Gorbachev. As he paused to look down at the rocks and sea below, I asked, “What do you think of Gorbachev?” “Oh, this is, among other things, a great 20th century Russian love story,” he said, tapping the book, “and so well written. He loved his wife, Raissa, and he loved the Russian people.” We chatted for a few minutes during which he mentioned how Gorbachev was rejected by the very people
Jesus has words of caution for those who might wish to follow him: be ready to deny yourselves and take up your cross. That involves more than grasping the nettle of life that everyone has to grasp in order to grow. The cross will take its shape and weight in the circumstances that believers find themselves in life.
Bombs and explosives, killer vans and forest fires, mudslides and floods, gangs and cartels. Jails that are overflowing and churches that are near-empty. TV images of people running for their lives. What’s going on? Who’s in charge? Has hope abandoned our world?
A recent trip to Moscow and St Petersburg was eye-opening and a bit mind-boggling. The majestic palaces beautifully restored from the imperial centuries, the huge museums that house old European and Russian art treasures, and the onion-domed cathedrals that strain at the seams with stunning icons and mosaics – each one in itself a cultural and visual feast.
There’s much heart-ache in life. We dream of getting away from the pressures and resting in the hammock of delight. But we can’t let go the daily agenda so as to eat and enjoy what we’ve cooked. There’s little permission in our culture for rest and silent listening. “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest.” An attractive invitation to those who are seduced by their desires. There’s an artificial urgency that tends to dissolve Jesus’ call to those who would follow him. A little discipline might help us to lighten
All sorts of folk drop by our local bakery. It may be for a chat, a quiet read over a cappuchino, escape from the house, a couple of tourists to check it out or whatever. I am not immune to any of the above and I like to engage with others in the congenial surround of the bakery and its denizens.
For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about Pope Francis lately. He is deep into his 81st year and there seems to be no let-up to his energy level. I’ve been looking over his daily homilies which he gives Monday thru Friday at Casa Santa Marta, his home in the Vatican.
Lisa Goertz lost her family – husband, children, siblings and parents – in the Jewish holocaust. In her book she told her telling story. Having lost everything and everyone dear to her Lisa, overcome by grief, became suicidal and decided to end it all. And then an extraordinary thing happened. “I walked out into the night feeble with hunger, half-crazy with fear and fatigue, and made my way to the river Neisse. ‘In a few hours it would be all over,’ I told myself. What a relief! And then it happened. Across the dark river I saw the Cross
“If you knew the gift of God…..” There is one who knew this gift of God, one who did not lose one particle of it, one who is so pure, so luminous that she seemed to be the Light itself….One whose life was so simple, so lost in God that there is hardly anything we can say about it.
Age and Understanding
Growing old is a journey into gratitude; into serenity, wisdom, empathy and into a kind of solitude – each reflecting a center like the sides of a prism. Those of us of a certain vintage are on those journeys and, like any growth journey, they’re not without pains and bruises. Of embarrassments and goodbyes, I’ve had my share along the way.