The morning is gentle. I’ve come at the perfect time to sit and pray near the old living room windows. The sign of the cross, coffee on the window sill, closed eyes. I’m opaque inside today. I pray about yesterday. And sometimes my prayer isn’t always clear.
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I’ve been throwing pottery for over a year now. For a while, I had the technique down, or at least down enough to center the clay and build from there. But lately, I have had the worst time centering the clay. As I sit with my struggles to center the clay, my mind wanders to the world around me: does anything feel centered these days?
“This whole year has felt like a Lenten penance in the desert, so I’m not thinking about what to give up. Instead, I enter this season replaying images of that day with Javier.” Christopher Alt, SJ, recounts the story of his friend’s first day out of prison and considers what lessons it has for us as we see promises of the end of the pandemic and move into Lent.
The prophet Joel extolls the people of God to rend their hearts and not their garments to be touched and broken and changed at a deeper level than what is visible, a profound, inner conversion, one of the heart. And God will find us in the most beautiful ways. All we have to do is open the door. Find out what happens when I open a door and start seeing Christ on the other side.
I love musicals. I love watching them, discussing them, debating about them, criticizing them, comparing them. I work out listening to soundtracks from esoteric musicals from the 1960s. I appeared in musicals every year from when I was 5 to 22, and wrote a musical in lieu of a philosophy final. God can find us wherever we are, and God found me right where I love to be: in a theatre.
For the first time during my break, I was able to concentrate on something. I began sketching a chubby leg, two hands hovering above a halo. This was the infant Jesus that would become the object of my prayer over the Christmas season. What I created also became my prayer, a prayer to be less active and more present.
Today is Inauguration Day. So much has happened leading up to this day that we offer this moment to God, to bless, to protect, and to guide this day into the way of peace. Pray with us today as our country takes time to transition and change.
What is discipleship? What is mere discipleship? The opening line of my newest poem, “Mere Discipleship,” says that “mere discipleship sheds easy excuses, burns hot and bright,” and that line is just the beginning of unpacking a process of following Christ. Are you a disciple? Are you a mere disciple? How do you know? Pray with me in today’s reflection and discover how I uncover that I am a mere disciple.
I arrived early to be an earwitness to the night shift’s report to the dayshift. I admired how the nurse with whom I was to work that day seamlessly received the report that I could only, at best, make half sense of. Knowledge decanted from the mind of one nurse to the next distilling indispensable bits from any distasteful dregs about the previous night. The final tipoff from the drained night-nurse was her impression that our heart transplant patient would soon begin to recover consciousness as the effect of the heavy drugs diminished. It turns out this night would be about two hearts.
Imagine it’s Christmas morning again. You reach into your stocking and pull out a hefty lump of clay with directions attached. You’re to make clay figures of the most important people in your life and arrange them in a way that represents each person’s personality and role in the group dynamic. What does the scene reveal? Christopher Alt reflects on a family therapy technique, the Nativity, and allowing ourselves to be molded more deeply into God’s divine embrace.