I hurry up Sixth Avenue. It’s early Saturday morning and I need to get to St. James Anglican church. I’m co-facilitating a retreat and don’t want to be late.
I suddenly realize I’m not sure of the bus route. Do I catch it going north or south? I feel a twinge of anxiety. I want to ask someone but no one’s around. If I run back to the station, I might miss the bus.
I spot a woman with a bag of groceries in each hand, walking briskly ahead of me. I quicken my pace.
“Hello,” I say to get her attention. But she doesn’t hear me.
“Hello!” I call louder.
And then, “HEL-LO!”
The woman stops, turns around and removes her earphones while still holding the bags. She’s about thirty years old with long curly hair and a hand-knitted toque.
“Oh, darling,” she says, looking into my eyes. “What’s the matter?”
Her compassion disarms me. “I … I need to catch the #22 bus to Main and Hastings.”
“Oh, that bus stop is across the street there.” She comes closer and points. “See it?”
She waits until she knows I have.
“Yes. Thank you.”
She hears the relief in my voice. Her shoulders relax; her back straightens. “You’re welcome.” She smiles warmly, then goes on her way.
HE DESIRED ME SO I CAME CLOSE
No one can near God unless He has
prepared a bed for you.
A thousand souls hear His call every second,
but most every one then looks into their life’s mirror and
says, “I am not worthy to leave this sadness.”
When I first heard His courting song, I too
looked at all I had done in my life and said,
“How can I gaze into His omnipresent eyes?”
I spoke those words with all my heart,
but then He sang again, a song even sweeter,
and when I tried to shame myself once more from His presence
God showed me His compassion and spoke a divine truth,
“I made you, dear, and all I make is perfect.
Please come close, for I
–Teresa of Avila (translated by Daniel Ladinsky)
Advent Reflection Questions:
- As you consider the images of God in the painting, story or poem, what feelings are evoked?
- Could these feelings contain God’s desire for you to come close?
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Love Mischief for the World
The term “love mischief” comes from a poem called Seed Cracked Open, written by Hafiz, a Sufi who lived in Persia in the 14th century. He wrote scores of poems about his playful relationship with God. Once I spent a whole retreat reading nothing but Hafiz’s poetry and felt divinely embraced. It’s the love mischief of Daniel Ladinsky, who translated these poems, we have to thank for introducing us to Hafiz and reviving the love poetry of Teresa of Avila and other ancient mystics. Recently, Daniel left this comment on one of my posts. “You say, ‘I did a little dance,’ in reading a comment I posted. That is really my sole care in the world now … to help every creature boogie ever higher—become more free and safe.”