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Issue 123 - We're Back! - May  2015

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This Blessed Place
  The title above is also the title of a wonderful essay reviewing Marilynne Robinson's trilogy of grace-filled novels:  Gilead (published in 2004),  Home (2008), and  Lila (2014).

  "There is a wisdom and beauty in [Robinson's] depiction of the faithfully lived life," writes Fordham University professor, Angela Alaimo O'Donnell, in her essay published last month in

America  magazine. Robinson writes about the very mundane lives of folks in the fictional small town of Gilead, Iowa, especially about two families, the families of John Ames and Robert Boughton, friends and Protestant pastors, who have grown old together in this one small town. Like most lives, theirs have known tragedy; like most families, theirs bear the scars of long-ago wounds.
  In this ordinary place, among these ordinary lives, grace happens. "What Marilynne Robinson enables us to see," writes O'Donnell, is that "every place is blessed, in her profoundly Christian vision. All lives 'can shine like transfiguration,' she assures us, if only we bring to them 'a little willingness to see.'"


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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

104-Into Self Into God

107-First Home

108-NBA Championship

110-On Freedom 

112 Robin Williams 


114-Simple Acts 

116-Kentucky Epiphany 

119-Christmas Mystery  


121-Radical Amazement 

122-St. John's Bible 

Link to all past issues    


Dear Reader,
   Thank you for your patience. Our last Reflection was sent in mid-February, some three months ago.  Since then we have sold our house, moved into a temporary apartment, and now have another home under contract; hoping to move (again) next month. (And this is the very condensed version of our last couple of months!)
   We apologize for the delay in publication, and ask all your prayers for our ongoing transition..
Jan & Bill

Mind the Gaps


"Mind the gap" was the catch-phrase for our local public radio station's spring pledge drive. I take it as advice about my spiritual life.  When there are gaps in my routine practices, I should take note; I should give the matter some mind.

As mentioned above, there has been a gap in our publication of this newsletter. I must confess that writing Reflection is frequently a delight, but sometimes a chore. More often than I would like to admit, we are scrambling to meet our self-imposed deadlines.  (And - as you can see - when we stop imposing the deadlines, the newsletters stop coming.)

For me, writing Reflection is also a spiritual discipline.  Many centuries ago, the Desert Fathers and Mothers identified "attentiveness" as both a virtue and a spiritual discipline.  It is only through the discipline of paying attention that we are able "to grasp the beauty and mystery of ordinary things" (see Belden C. Lane, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes, chap. 7).

Having a deadline for producing Reflection twice a month makes me pay attention. If I don't pay attention to what is going on around me and within, I will have nothing to write about. So I am forced by this discipline to pay attention to my life, to look more deeply, and to ponder what I see, I feel, and I hear.

None of our spiritual disciplines - daily prayer, journaling, fasting, lectio divina, whatever - are ends in themselves. Rather, they are means to an end: to help us step back from mindless routine, from the daily rat race, and to be mindful - to truly pay attention to the passing events of each day, as well as to the deep currents beneath the surface of our lives. 

Each of these disciplines helps us to listen for the still, small voice of God.


- Bill

Detachment and Sensory Delights
      Margaret Silf aptly describes detachment as "to 'make use of what leads to life' and to leave aside what does not lead to life." I'd like to add that we don't fully realize what we're attached to until we move. Transitioning from a 3212sq/ft house to a small temporary apartment with some of our 'stuff' in storage, it feels like sometimes I don't have what I need to carry on. It feels like the fingernails of my right hand have been flayed off. I really don't need them except when I wa nt to use them. 
       Having less 'stuff' in our apartment to piddle around with, I found unexpected windows of un-spoken-for time available for living the fullness of life, for making use of what leads to life. Our apartment
China Berry Blossoms
balcony, wrapped in the arms of embracing leafy tree limbs, welcomes dappled morning sunlight and serene moments of evening closure. Whiffs of fragrant China Berry blossoms remind me of m  childhood when I spent hours and hours of my play-days in our back yard hanging out in my treehouse and hanging from the homemade rope swing secured on the bottom China Berry limb.
      It's probably no coincidence that the next book on my read-list is Blessed Simplicity. Just starting it, I already can see that it's a great read for those of us in a process of radical detachment. The author, like Silf, suggests that a person aspire to reach the ultimate goal of life with all his being by renouncing all that is not necessary to it. The sweet scent of fragrant China Berry flowers is not necessary but the sensual delights do make radical detachment more consoling....maybe even make detachment more delightful.   
                                   --by Jan

Margaret Silf, Inner Compass.
Raimundo Panikkar, Blessed Simplicity.


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Copyright (c) 2014 Soul Windows Ministries

Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries