Thursday, January 29, 2009


I experienced my first-ever session with a "spiritual adviser" yesterday. Admittedly, I was skeptical at first, as the idea of paying someone money to dispense wisdom of a luminous nature seems...counter-intuitive.

Friends, it was worth it.

We talked for a long time, she gave me some literature, some words of counsel. And these two quotes, which I have since carried:

"Expect that a miracle is about to manifest."

"The Mystery never leaves you alone. Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world waits. A world lives within you."
-John O'Donahue

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Just Jesus

It's strange how the sayings of Jesus are often attributed to "the Bible," bulked up by verses and passages. Listen to "just Jesus," let St. Paul and the other disciples and Apostles (ancient and modern) fall silent.

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking y
our tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back."

(Can you imagine what the world would look like if people [myself included] actually listened to this stuff? Education, healthcare, economics, immigration and foreign policy. Relationships with our fathers, mailmen, sisters, hairdressers, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, enemies.)

"Continue asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Continue seeking, and you will find. Continue knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For all who ask, receive. All who seek, find. And to all who knock, the door will be opened."

“What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?”

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the heavenly kingdom."

“Every man who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

"Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you. In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike."

"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring it's own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."

"My kingdom is not from this place. If it were, my followers would fight to prevent my arrest. But now my kingdom is not of this world."

"The kingdom is inside you and all around you. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me."

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to pray standing on the street corners to be seen by men. Truly, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen."

“In the world you will have many troubles, but take courage;
For I have overcome the world.”


Thursday, January 15, 2009

One more thing

Like many others, this is a difficult time for me right now. A time of change, transition, fear and uncertainty. Prayers would be fabulous.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Living in the Desert

Forgive me if this is rambling; I've felt compelled to write about this for some time, but I can't say my thoughts follow any logical order or conclusion. :)

When my family converted to Mormonism and moved from Scotland in the late 19th century, they immediately trekked westward to the Salt Lake valley. From there, they were asked by their religious leaders to settle in northern and central Arizona. My great-grandfather helped design the LDS temple in Mesa, and his house is a historical site across the street.

Like many raised here, I've spent much of my life wanting to leave. (Likewise, I would venture a guess that Seattle residents hate the rain, and New Englanders despise snow?) Sunshine, believe or not, can be depressing when it bears down relentlessly - 86% of daylight hours, to be precise. That's roughly 300 sunny days per year.

As I've lived in/visited various climates, I'm intrigued by the desert and its effect on people. Call it a kind of morbid fascination with the city of Phoenix.

The desert, of course, has long been a symbol for finding oneself. Venturing into the wilderness alone with your wits, body, and maybe God too. The desert fathers - Anthony, Athanasius, John Chrysostom; even John the Baptist and Jesus himself - lived in a climate very similar to the Sonoran desert.

Many cradle Phoenicians complain about the lack of life, culture and vibrancy here. There is indeed truth to the sentiment that the Phoenix metropolitan area is nothing more than a vast wasteland of urban sprawl. Even downtown is not easily walkable (though the new light-rail helps!), and nearly every trip requires a vehicle.

But that's not interesting to me, because culture is easily discovered if sought after (even here), and I've heard cradle Phoenicians bitching about it for two decades - the very same folks who move to Los Angeles or New York and continue whining that there's "nothing to do."

No, seeing this land as New Englanders, Midwesterners, Southerners and Europeans see it is more interesting. Eastern Europe is suffering from a natural gas blockade/shortage, and most of the U.S. is in a deep freeze. It was 73 degrees today, which really puts thing into perspective. It's given me a sympathetic and curious attitude towards cities like Baghdad, Jerusalem, Riyadh and Cairo.

The desert, originally an icon of self-sufficiency, where many survivalists try to make their mark, is anything but. It's eerie, how uninhibited by nature we are. There are no floods, no blizzards, no tornadoes or hurricanes, no earthquakes. Even New York City, the iron heart of capitalism and civilisation, is penetrated by snow and ice. Plant life is scarce, and much of it survives only because we keep it alive under carefully regulated systems in neatly trimmed hedges. This city feels like an outcome of "Man vs. Nature," where Man has won final victory.

What are the spiritual effects? I couldn't begin to tell you. I've experienced a deep and abiding sense of gratitude for the ability to wear shorts. "Nature" begins to look less green/blue, and more brown/yellow. Not that that's a bad thing. There is much beauty here, perhaps less easily found. It assumes a different shape. I'm surprised at how attached I feel to this sprawling mess when away. There is something to be said for the emptiness of the skies, the deadness of the earth (covered in concrete or dirt), the conspicuous absence of pests and pollens. I used to hike up trails in local parks at night and watch the city. It is one of the most silent cities. Maybe there is still some monasticism in the desert.

Tell me about your city! What's it like?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009