sanity will prevail and that all those suffering on account of the terrible conflict in Ukraine will find the comfort and resources they need.
Leaning into Light,
c. EAS, 1989
Now the coolness, now the spring,
Gone all craving and desire,
Now the shade by waters sweet
Now the anthem soaring high,
Gone the fear of flight and dance,
Now more joy, inspired strains
Now the Bridegroom's healing touch,
Gone the aching loneliness,
Now the kiss, restoring life
Now the Light, how searing bright!
Gone the shadows of the night,
Now the blaze, resplendent flames
Now the glory of His Face,
Now the splendid feast Divine,
Now all love and tenderness
- What doors close you in and block you from full discipleship?
- In what ways do you encounter the Risen Christ and what difference does this make to your life of faith?
- What makes you a "doubting Thomas" and what might be the remedy?
- What do you understand by "Divine Mercy"?
Try my Spiritual Self-Assessment Tool! After you take the Quiz, you will automatically receive a computer-generated analysis of your strengths and "growing edges." https://assess.coach/eastewart/
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Creating Sacred Context
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Greetings, SBT Readers!
He was about to start his fourth book, a sequel to his amazing Third Thaw Trilogy (The Third Thaw, Before the Thaw and The Final Thaw). A structural engineer by trade, Karl J. Hanson created an imaginative world light years from Earth, in which a group of young adults, raised by robots, must re-establish human civilization after a planetary calamity. Fusing contemporary and futuristic technology with various geological epochs
, science fiction and the battle between good and evil, Karl’s books allow the reader to “suspend disbelief” in an experience that is simultaneously thought provoking, disturbing, entertaining and inspiring. Sadly, he will never get to write the sequel-- and after serving as Karl's writing coach since 2016, I am going to miss out on what would have been yet another incredible coaching journey!
On my way to his Memorial Service this morning, I found myself pondering over what it means to have one's "life's work" aborted by accident, untimely death or other circumstances, especially during the Easter season when the focus is on the Resurrection, spring, fertility, the end of winter (at least, in the northern hemisphere). These thoughts accompanied me into St. David's Episcopal Church, Glenview. Once in my pew with The Book of Common Prayer in hand, along with the Worship Aid and Hymnal, I found that the texts brought clarity. Perhaps it was the recitation of Psalm 23 or the singing of Abide with Me; or perhaps it was something the priest said in her moving tribute to Karl, but by the time we processed out for the interment of ashes in a spot right next to the church itself, my thinking had shifted. "Life's work," I reasoned, has nothing to do with the material legacy we leave behind; rather, far from being quantifiable or even tangible, it has everything to do with how we treat those we encounter each day -- our loved ones, friends, clients, community members, all creatures great and small, the Earth...
Our reason for “BE-ING,” then, is not so much to “DO” as to participate in God’s BEING – which is Love. Instead of grieving over works not accomplished and goals not reached, let us instead celebrate how each of us contributes to the well-being of the human race and to all creation – in this world or in a world light years away!
RIP, Karl – may your books find their rightful audience but may you be remembered as a husband, father, colleague, neighbor and planetary citizen... Alleluia!
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and place your hand into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” Jn 20:19-31
It is always the locked doors that grip my imagination-- those heavy doors barred against intruders, secured against enemies, barricaded to keep out the civil and religious authorities or unknown threats of any kind. Perhaps one of the disciples is guarding the door; perhaps there is a password that people of good will must utter to gain admittance; perhaps everyone is on edge, looking at those doors as if in anticipation of "the end." Jesus, after all, has been crucified, and along with him, all their hopes and dreams. The problem is that living in fear means that the disciples have lost their freedom. Because they have locked themselves in, they have locked out faith, hope and love; they have locked out the possibility of an alternative future and are now into Doomsday imaginings. They have chained themselves to disbelief and ceased to be disciples in anything but name. Everything Jesus taught them and predicted is now inaccessible, buried deep in the recesses of their brains.
Then Jesus bursts into their presence. “How?” we might ask. Does he filter through the doors like a ghost or magically manifest like some genii? Are there stage effects like bright light, dazzling clouds or flashes of lightening? Or does he simply stand there, without any fanfare or heavenly entourage? John simply writes, “He came and stood in their midst,” first extending his peace and then showing them his bodily wounds to prove that he is not an apparition. Then comes the breath -- the breath of life, the breath of resuscitation, the breath of spiritual CPR. This breath animates spirit, brings life to dry bones, builds community, establishes mission. Thomas doubts because he misses this life-restoring breath; he needs to be re-incorporated into the faith community because he is "not home" when Jesus shows up. He fails to believe because the Good News is too good to be true.
A week later, even after receiving the Spirit, the community is still hiding behind locked doors. Could Thomas be the doorkeeper, the one who insists on locking those doors because he himself has not yet been initiated into the life of the Spirit? Or do the doors have to stay locked until the entire faith community embraces the Risen Christ? Again, Jesus manifests and Thomas finally believes.
Sometimes, when life is overwhelming, nothing makes sense and faith is in short supply, we retreat behind closed doors, imagining we are safe there. The reality is that no place is safe unless we are sheltering in the arms of the Risen Christ, the One who strengthens, consoles and restores us, inviting us to break the locks and open the doors...