Things encountered today…
Brie on a bridge. I was crossing the Mazzini bridge near the house and saw a paper plate, a napkin, and a wrapped wedge of brie. It struck me as both intriguing and somewhat sad at the same time.
A man with a hacksaw cutting the lock from a bicycle. I hoped it was his own.
A woman spiraled into the corner of a street, swathed in cloths of every color.
An enormous tour group with more cameras per capita than wheat sprigs in Kansas
An exceedingly happy woman walking her even happier dog
A homeless sidewalk artist chalking Mary Poppins-worthy paintings onto the cement
A hormonal gaggle of high school students pitching crumbs to pigeons…
…pigeons who honestly shared with one another. If there was a large crumb, one would come and peck, then step away. Another would come along, peck, and move aside…
Another dog who thought I was the greatest thing ever as I came out of a market. I got it all--play bow, hand slurps, head bonks on the thigh… His owner was amused.
Today was a day of prayer dedicated to praying with the readings we are going to use for our final vows.
Isaiah 61: 1-3
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn; To place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes, To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit. They will be called oaks of justice, planted by the Lord to show his glory.
If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy,complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes 3 so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was important to me to pray these readings while I was out, in the middle of the masses, face-on with the muchadumbre, the khuli baloli, the crowds of people that I encounter and serve with my life, consecrated to the glory of the heart of Jesus. I spent time sitting in the middle of a plaza, opened my bible, read, and prayed. Then, I walked some more, found a new bit of old stone, plunked down, read them again and prayed. This pattern sustained me for several hours.
I loved the reading of the texts while among the incredible diversity of humanity. Word was within me and outside me…It was the wholeness of it all… The love of Jesus expressed in the text, the love of Jesus within me, the manifestation of this love all around me as well as the call to share my bit of it, to engage in relationship with humanity/creation with all that might mean—challenge, love, self-emptying, growth--and discover even more…and bring that to prayer with the Word and listen, and discern, and venture on with openness and freedom…
This afternoon it occurred to me yet again that whole stories are not borne on the exterior. Any one of the people I passed, saw or did not see, spoke with, smiled at, nodded to…might be mourning. Someone of them might be being held captive or prisoner by a situation or experience or… Who among them needs the oil of gladness? A royal crown instead of a wreath of ashes? And how would I ever know, unless I engaged in a relationship of listening, serving, being broken open for another, that has as its source and strength the love of Jesus?
Doing that very thing, engaging in that sort of relationship with others, is, I think, being united with the heart and mind of Jesus. In that way, I am remaining with Jesus, who loves me completely and always, and I am freely experiencing that love within me…that love which also draws me onward and beckons and lives in others and challenges…and nourishes…
Yes, nourishes…the branches, which are fed from the vine and so produce fruit, but not without pruning. And what relationship of value does not include a snip here and there? And why?
So that our joy may be complete--in the loving of one another as we are loved by God.
I am going to bed so very grateful tonight...