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See what love

by davesandel on January 3rd, 2019

See what love

Thursday, January 3, 2019

See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are! – From 1 John 2

Up in a prominent place on Andi and Aki’s dining room wall, the words say, “I don’t want to treat my blessings as burdens.” Andi used her considerable calligraphy skills and created a beautiful reminder.

Just around the corner, as we enter the kitchen, another sign: “Not by my strength, but his.”

Not by my grace, not by my hope, not by my love, but his.

Only through great love and great suffering do we enter the eye of the needle, pass through, and inhabit the kingdom of God. And of course, this being earth-caught-in-time, we don’t have the capacity, yet, to stay there. Back and forth through the gates we go.

Or maybe it’s just me.

To be afraid of death, as if it isn’t part of living, seems very human, very fallen, very wrong. And I AM afraid. I want to stay situated safe in the Kingdom and not waffle, not be thrown back and forth by my whims, my choices, my sin, my fear. I think the first step to dwelling in the house of the Lord forever includes the welcoming of death. At the bottom of it, fear is always about death. Without that fear I am free to be myself in each magical moment, each one a gift, and dis-regard my unknown, unknowable future.

In Ron Rolheiser’s childhood home, his family prayed for “happy death.” Fr. Rolheiser thinks that means dying “in honesty, irrespective of whether the particular circumstances look good religiously or not.” His example of honesty comes from Carmelite Ruth Burrows’ thoughts about her friend: “She died the death of a weak person, asking God to forgive her for a lifetime of weakness.”

Not by my forgiveness, and not by yours, but his.

Poetry gets down deep inside these truths. Mary Oliver looks at her life, watrching a hungry dogfish hunting “three small fish, I don’t know what they were, huddled in the highest ripples.” The hunter swims in “effortless, the whole body one gesture, one black sleeve.”

In her life, Mary said,

Also I wanted

to be able to love. And we all know

how that one goes,

don’t we?




Mary watches the hunted, gets to know herself staring into the stream.

And look! Look! Look! I think those little fish

Better wake up and dash themselves away

From the hopeless future that is

Bulging toward them.


O Lord, it is not our strength but yours! O Lord, this is not burden, it is blessing! O, Lord, it’s you it’s you it’s you. See what love!

Mary knows what she sees in the mirror of the pool, naming the fish, watching herself. What lesson for them all?

And probably,

if they don’t waste time

looking for an easier world,


they can do it.

*    *    *

O Lord, we have seen the moments of our greatness flicker. Central Casting sends out one and then another to play the prince. When my heart beats without my knowing, Lord, you still inhabit your “pointe vierge” deep inside me, and I know how safe how safe how safe I am with you. See what love!

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