Reflection Masthead
Issue 134 - Our Uncertain Certainties  - February 2016

Join Our Mailing List


Our thanks to all who have recently contributed to help cover the costs of producing and sending Soul Windows - Reflection:
  • Linda M. Cisneros
  • Delores Doerr
  • Lynn Englert
  • Candy Foy
  • Joyce Gray
  • Irene Herd
  • Aurora G. Krause
  • Marty Kubicek
  • Celina Rios Mullan
  • Jean Troncale
  • Sr. Antoinette van Galen
May God bless you richly for your generous support!
Soul Windows Logo

Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake


101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

108-NBA Championship

110-On Freedom 

112 Robin Williams 


116-Kentucky Epiphany 

119-Christmas Mystery  


121-Radical Amazement 

122-St.John's Bible 

124-Botanical Garden 

126-Call of the King 

127-Living Our Stories 

128-Pope Francis 

129-Saint Francis 


131-The Way of Peace  

132-Danube Reflections  

133-Want Happiness?  

Link to all past issues     


Please share Reflection freely by forwarding any issue (click "Forward email" below), but remember to respect copyright laws by not altering, copying, or reproducing Reflection, whole or in part, without written permission.
Copyright (c) 2016 Soul Windows Ministries

Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries 
A Remarkable Sign

It appears to be an unremarkable sign, completely ordinary: "Office space for rent."  So why did I take the picture?
Because of the way things change.  The picture was taken last fall, in Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. The remarkable thing about the sign is that it is in English, only in English.
To understand how remarkable, let me tell you a story. My friend, Hans-Christian Beutel, grew up in East Germany. While schools in West Germany required the study of English, his school did not even offer English as an elective.  His mother lobbied the East-German school system to offer English. They declined. A school official assured his mother, "Your son will never have any need for English; there are no Socialist countries in the world where English is spoken."
Just a few years later, the Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet bloc disintegrated. Within decades, in the capital of a former Socialist country, I found the sign in English. Only in English.
Life, as they say, is filled with surprises. So many of our "certainties" are actually uncertain. We try to convince ourselves that that which is familiar is permanent. Not so. That East-German school official sounds a lot like the author described by Claudio Magris: "Like everyone else he suffered on account of the world that changes and the truths that vanish, the loved faces that become strange to us and the incalculable loss of things.  He wished to give an unchanging face, a reassuring order, to the indistinct and transitory seething of things."
Inevitably, over the course of life, we will suffer on account of the world that changes. Every human structure that we trust will ultimately crumble.  Each us has the choice to embrace and welcome change or to resist. But none of us can give the world an unchanging face.
Some truths do vanish, so let us be humble about our certainties.

-- Bill
The Complexity of Transitory Things
              The Spirit blows where she pleases (John 3:8). She appears as a dove (Mt 3:16), as power (Micah 3:8), as a sound like the blowing of a violent wind (Acts 2:2) - always moving. How - and why - then, do we insist on our church being static? Perhaps as there are more and more "nones" in our nation, it would do us well to consider how we might grow our churches into the 'mores'. As Tom Dickau wrote, "I've always said that if you combined Anabaptist stance over against the world, with a Reformed desire to transform society, and Catholic spiritual practice, you'd have a church."* Maybe it's time for the Spirit to swoop again into our Upper Rooms.
                In my work, I have the opportunity to visit many churches. Some are static and fossilized. Others are vibrant and alive! And free! "Always, the Spirit is interested in moving us to freedom, as freedom is where the Spirit abides."(2 Cor 3:17) The difference, as I perceive it, is the pastor's concern about the spiritual life of the members, plus the freedom to let go of calcified thinking that doesn't work anymore and move into the possibilities of what could be.
                Tillich speaks of the "ontological shock" of recognizing that self-absorption blocks the way to self-realization. And there is another kind of shock, which Ray Hart calls the "imaginative shock" of great art, that reveals the gap between what one is and what one could and should be.** As we consider the transitory seething of things, let us consider the advice of Neale Donald Walsch: "Honor the tradition but expand the understanding. That's what religions must do right now of they hope to be helpful to humans in the years ahead."***
*Quoted in Jason Byassee, "Vancouver's Stony Soil." Christian Century, Jan 6, 2016, p. 24.
**Michael Ivens, Understanding the Spiritual Exercises, p. 224
***Quoted in Megan McKenna, Like a Hammer Shattering Rock, p. 98.
                                              - Jan
We appreciate your loyal readership and kind words of gratitude for the  Soul Windows - Reflection newsletter. We kindly ask that you support our ministry financially as well. Online contributions can be made through the  PayPal link below (even if you don't have a PayPal account). Just follow the link and enter a dollar amount in the "Item price" box under "Make a donation." You also may make a donation by mailing a check to the address at the bottom of this newsletter.

        Thank you.