Editorial Note: I have been asked by a small number of people over the last few years if I were going to write a book with my pithy thoughts and aphorisms. I probably won’t because books are expensive to produce and I would like what I’ve learned from my mistakes to be freely available to anyone who wants to use it or to critique my youthful and not-so-youthful stupidity. So I’ve collected some of my thoughts from the past year for those who are interested to review them and ponder or laugh at how silly I am. Whichever. See my thoughts from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 if you care to. I have not written much this year, but I hope that what little I did will be useful.
February 23rd, 2017 – In a few days, it will be Forgiveness Sunday for my brothers and sisters in many of the Eastern churches. May we all forgive the sins of others as God forgives ours: with an infinite divine mercy.
March 16th, 2017 – In the desert, it is not the billions of grains of sand around you that cause you constant irritation, but rather the few that are tumbling around under your foot in your boot. How quickly we stop to pour them out if we are wise!
In the same way, when we are in the spiritual desert, it should not be the many evils around us that constantly irritate us, but rather the ones we carry with us. And how quickly we stop and seek to rid ourselves of our own evils if we are wise.
May 2nd, 2017 – In the garden, we seek the counsel of the experienced gardener and follow the advice we are given by the gardener who has been cultivating and harvesting for many years.
In the same way, we should seek the counsel of the experienced cultivator of the garden of the spiritual life and follow the advice we are given so that the spiritual harvest may be abundant for us and for all those we love.
August 5th, 2017 – In the past couple of years, I have begun to learn what a gift suffering is. The gift of suffering is not the weight of it, the agony of it, the resignation we feel while enduring it, or the rage it ignites in us…the gift is that suffering slowly separates us from our selfishness if we simply accept it is a gift, suffering for the love of others and entering into their suffering to bear their cross with them.
November 16th, 2017 – In much the same way that logic is the beginning of wisdom rather than its end, empathy is the beginning of love rather than the end of love. Empathy helps us to begin to learn to love because when we can empathize with an individual it helps to temporarily relieve us of our selfishness and open us up briefly to self-giving love. The end of love lies not in this temporary opening up to self-giving love, but in a profound compassion that no longer relies on a sense of empathy for an individual.
The end of love is to react with profound compassion even when we have no sense of empathy whatsoever, when our compassion becomes so universal in its embrace of all our human family members and so rational in its desire for their greatest good that we transcend the need for empathy as a mechanism by which we are temporarily relieved of our selfishness.
The end of love is a radical self-giving which is liberated from the constraints of our all too limited capacity for empathy.
December 17th, 2017 – The fullness of truth is ever scandalous to the human mind; we refuse to accept that it cannot fit into the overly simplistic categories used by our tiny hominid brains. It is the little pieces of truth that we find acceptable, usually the ones that don’t make us change our minds all that much.