Deacon Lincoln’s Log 12-29-13

“Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream…  He rose, took the child and his mother. “

Mt. 2:13f

Joseph is one of the greatest listeners of all time.

Scripture doesn’t record a word that Joseph spoke, but it does record his listening.

Joseph’s deep desire was to  keep his wife and newborn child safe.  The world around them was hostile.  Joseph knew the ruler of the world wanted the child dead.  He was displaced without family or friends to help.  He was poor and powerless. He didn’t have many options.  Powerful enemies surrounded him.

So Joseph listened.

He listened with one ear to heaven and one ear to the needs of his new family.  Joseph listened to the dangers around him.  Joseph listened with the ear of his heart.   He closed his mouth and opened his ears.

And God sent Joseph a message.

It wasn’t an easy message to accept.  He was to leave where he was and start over in a new place.  It would not be easy or safe.  There were no details, no long range plan.  Only a command to go.

And Joseph went.

His listening bore fruit in his action.

Joseph continued to listen.  As he struggled to root his family in new soil, he listened with one ear to heaven and one ear to the needs of his family.

And it happened again.  God sent Joseph a message.  Return!

Again, no details, no long range plan.

And Joseph went.

His listening bore fruit in his action.

Joseph is one of the greatest listeners of all time.  He listened deeply and he never stopped listening. He responded to God’s messages.  His listening heart shaped a life of holiness.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Br. Roger of Taize – Rest in Peace

When I was young, at a time when Europe was torn apart by so many conflicts, I kept on asking myself: Why all these confrontations?  Why do so many people, even Christians, condemn one another out of hand?  And I wondered:  is there, on this earth, a way of reaching complete understanding of others?  Then came a day – I can still remember the date, and I could describe the place:  the subdued light of a late summer evening, darkness settling over the countryside — a day when I made a decision.  I said to myself, if this way does exist, begin with yourself and resolve to understand every person fully.  That day, I was certain the vow I had made was for life.  It involved nothing less than returning again and again, my whole life long, to this irrevocable decision:  seek to understand all, rather than to be understood.

Br. Roger of Taize 1915-2005
On August 16, during a prayer service at Taize,
Brother Roger is fatally wounded by a mentally unbalanced assailant.
  He dies at the age of ninety.

Leo Tolstoy (8-28-1828 to 11-20-1910)

I admit that I am guilty, and vile, and worthy of contempt for failing to carry out Christ’s teaching.  At the same time, not to justify myself, but simply to explain my lack of consistency, I say:  “Look at my life now and compare it to my former life.  You will see that I am trying to live out the truth I proclaim.  True, I have not fulfilled a fraction of Christ’s will, and I am ashamed of this, but I have failed to fulfill his Word not because I do not wish to, but because I have been unable to.  Teach me how to escape from the net of temptations that surrounds me, help me, and I will fulfill Christ’s teachings.  Even without help I wish and hope to fulfill them.  Attack me, I do this myself, but attach me rather than the path I follow, which I point out to anyone who asks me where I think it lies.  If I know the way home and am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way simply because I am staggering side to side?

“If it is not the right way, then show me another way.  But if I stagger and lose the way, you must help me and keep me on the true path, just as I am ready to support you.  Do not mislead me, do not be glad that I have gotten lost, do not gleefully shout, ‘Look at him!  He said he was going home, but there he is crawling into a bog!’  No, do not gloat, but give me your help and support.  For you are not devils in the swamp, but people like me who are seeking the way home.  For I am alone and it cannot be that I wish to go into the swamp.  Help me, my heart is breaking in despair that we have all lost our way.”

So this is my attitude to Christ’s teaching.  I try to fulfill it with all I’ve got.  I not only repent for each failure, but also beg for help in fulfilling it.  And I joyfully welcome anyone who, like me, is looking for the path; and I listen to him.

The Beauty of Listening

More often than ever before young people ask me, “What is the most beautiful thing in your life?”  Without hesitating I reply:

  •  first of all the common prayer, and in it, the long periods of silence.

Then, immediately after that, the most beautiful thing in my life is this:

  • when I am talking with someone alone, to perceive the whole human being, marked by a tragedy or by being torn apart within, and at the same time by the irreplaceable gifts through which the life of God in that person is able to bring everything to fulfillment.

It is essential to try to comprehend the whole person… It is not enough simply to share what assaults a person within.  It is even more vital to search for that special gift of God, the pivot of their whole existence.  Once this gift (or gifts) has been brought to light, roads forward lie open.

Listening

[The spiritual dimension of] listening is that attitude of heart whereby that which is deepest and most mysterious in us remains in loving attentiveness to that which is deepest and most mysterious in God.

Francis Kelly Nemeck and Marie Therese Coombs

Cloud of Unknowing

“The Cloud of Unknowing teaches that we can achieve communion with God only through the Grace of divine Love. To prepare ourselves to receive this gift, we must enter a state of quiet stillness, suspended between heaven and earth. Above – between us and God – lies a mysterious “cloud of unknowing”, which our understanding can never penetrate. Between us and the world, we must create a “cloud of forgetting”, leaving conscious thought and desire below. In this timeless place of forgetting and unknowing, we may begin to hear that for which we are listening.
John Luther Adams