Reflections on humor & doubt, themes from John 20

What is the role of doubt and questioning in our spiritual lives? With whom do we keep company … some of the great matriarchs and patriarchs doubted. And then laughed. And hoped. Humor shines a light into dark places, becomes a wind sweeping through our souls.

(Reflecting on themes of humor and doubt from the Gospel of John while we celebrate Bright Sunday or Holy Humor Sunday: April 8. Wear bright colors. Bring a joke or riddle. Get ready to laugh out loud.)

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Rumi

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Reflections on New Year’s Eve, ‘kairos’ and ‘chronos’ forms of time

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
— lyrics by Frank Loesser, performed by Ella Fitzgerald

Maybe it’s much too early in the game
Aah, but I thought I’d ask you just the same
What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
When it’s exactly twelve o’clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year, New Year’s EveMaybe I’m crazy to suppose
I’d ever be the one you chose
Out of a thousand invitations, You received

Aah, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance
What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?


Of Time

It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one. ― George Harrison

Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’ ― Lao Tzu

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can. ― Dalai Lama XIV

Of Chronos

Chronology, the time which changes things, makes them grow older, wears them out, and manages to dispose of them, chronologically, forever. — Madeline L’Engle

The concept of time as a way to measure the duration of events is not only deeply intuitive, it also plays an important role in our mathematical descriptions of physical systems. phys.org

Chronos is clocks, deadlines, watches, calendars, agendas, planners, schedules, beepers … Chronos keeps track … Chronos is the world’s time … Chronos requires speed so that it won’t be wasted. Kairos requires space so that it might be savored. We do in chronos. In kairos we’re allowed to be … It takes only a moment to cross over from chronos into kairos, but it does take a moment.  ― Sarah Ban Breathnach

Of Kairos

Kairos is transcendence, infinity, reverence, joy, passion, love, the Sacred. Kairos is intimacy with the Real. Kairos is time at her best. … Kairos is Spirit’s time. We exist in chronos. We long for kairos. That’s our duality.
… It takes only a moment to cross over from chronos into kairos, but it does take a moment. All that kairos asks is our willingness to stop running long enough to hear the music of the spheres. ― Sarah Ban Breathnach

Thank God there is kairos too: again the Greeks were wiser than we are. They had two words for time: chronos and kairos. … Kairos is not measurable. Kairos is ontological … Kairos can sometimes enter, penetrate, break through chronos … The bush, the burning bush, is in kairos, not any burning bush, but the particular burning bush before which Moses removed his shoes; the bush I pass by on my way to the brook. In kairos that part of us which is not consumed in the burning is wholly awake. The artist at work is in kairos. The child at play, totally thrown outside himself in the game, be it building a sandcastle or making a daisy chain, is in kairos. In kairos, we become what we are called to be as human beings, cocreators with God, touching on the wonder of creation. — Madeline L’Engle, Walking on Water

There are moments, as I myself have emphasized on different occasions, in which “kairos,” the right time, is united with “logos,” the “eternal truth,” and in which the fate of philosophy is decided for a special period. — Paul Tillich


Oh sky, without me,
do not change,
Oh moon, without me,
do not shine;
Oh earth, without me,
do not grow,
Oh time, without me,
do not go …
― Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi (excerpt from poem)

Seasons of Love
(lyrics by Jonathan Larson, from Rent)

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear.
five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure,
Measure a year?

In daylights?
In sunsets?
In midnights?
In cups of coffee?
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?

In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure a year in a life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love…
Seasons of love…
Seasons of love…

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
Five hundred twenty five thousand journeys to plan.
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure a life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned,
or in times that he cried?
In bridges he burned,
or the way that she died?

It’s time now to sing out,
though the story never ends.
Let’s celebrate remember a year in a life
of friends

Reflections: Themes of doubt & faith, walking on water, risking, reaching & calling.

FAITH Frances Anne Kemble
Better trust all, and be deceived,
   And weep that trust, and that deceiving;
Than doubt one heart, that, if believed,
   Had blessed one’s life with true believing.
Oh, in this mocking world, too fast
   The doubting fiend o’ertakes our youth!
Better be cheated to the last,
   Than lose the blessèd hope of truth.

DOUBTAugustine Bowe
Faith can move mountains
Let the mountains be.
For when mountains stir,
There is no peace, even in the sea.

Doubt dares not touch
The heft of stone,
For fear it’s better, much
Better to leave things alone.


Walking on Water

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle. — Thich Nhat Hahn

When it comes to your life’s work, you can’t take yourself too seriously. Even Jesus had an occasional joke with the boys, take walking on water, for instance – but there’s a time and place for fun. Jesus never faltered when it came time to tip over the money stalls or to take his hard walk up the mountain. — Deacon Jones

Isn’t it instructive that the spiritual formation of the original disciples happens with Jesus on the road? In effect, the disciples learn by doing. They grow into an understanding of this God of love, this God of compassion, this God who loves justice, this God who makes all things new, by participating as active observers and agents of compassion, justice, and newness. … But the spiritual adventure described in the four Gospels does not happen in the sanctuary; it happens on the road, in the company of beggars, prostitutes, and lepers. — Jack Jezreel, Oneing

In God’s eyes, walking on water is no more miraculous than the ability of hemoglobin to bond with oxygen inside a red blood corpuscle. — Deepak Chopra

Walking on water wasn’t built in a day. — Jack Kerouac

We look at the ancient Greeks with their gods on a mountain top throwing lightning bolts and say, ‘Those ancient Greeks. They were so silly. So primitive and naive. Not like our religions. We have burning bushes talking to people and guys walking on water. We’re …sophisticated.’ — Paul Provenza

You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help? — Mark Twain

Jesus Christ would have been considered just another long-haired hippie freak if he hadn’t been crucified. The folks weren’t impressed with healing the sick, feeding the multitudes bread and fish or anything else, except maybe the walking on water. But when he got crucified, that gave him his big start. — Ted Turner

Now I understand. Everything is water. — Vladimir Nabokov, Speak Memory

Helping Hands: Reaching for Connection

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. ‘Pooh?’ he whispered.
‘Yes, Piglet?’ ‘Nothing,’ said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. ‘I just wanted to be sure of you.'” — A.A. Milne‘I felt Holmes’s hand steal into mine and give me a reassuring shake.’ – Watson. — Arthur Conan Doyle

Sooner or later, life is going to lead you (as it did Jesus) into the belly of the whale, into a place where you can’t fix, control, explain, or understand (usually very concrete and personal; it cannot be merely theoretical). That’s where transformation most easily and deeply happens. That’s when you’re uniquely in the hands of God because you cannot “handle” it yourself. — Fr. Richard Rohr

Doubt & Faith

I talk to God but the sky is empty. — Sylvia Plath

Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. — Paul Tillich

There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man. — Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear

Do not be afraid; our fate Cannot be taken from us; it is a gift. — Dante Alighieri, Inferno

Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving. — Frederick Buechner

For to have faith, is to have wings. — J.M. Barrie

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