Saturday, June 3, 2017


The tale of two…  Charles Dickens

Two roads diverged in a yellow woods…   Robert Frost

“In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose what we want most to be we are.”     Robert Louis Stevenson



Dear friends,

It's been a long time since I've posted.  I hope by the end of this one, you'll realize it was better for me not to have been writing these past several months.  Thanks for hanging in there with me via emails, texts or FB.  Kathleen

            I have never in my life felt so strong a tug at the center of my being as I have since the 20th of January, 2017.  To say that I have lived my adult life as apolitical is kind.  I’ve never been staunch in my leanings towards one party or the other.  And truth be told, I am not now.  I’ve resisted the many Blue offers that have come my way. 
          Because if there is only one learning in this moment (and there are many) it is that evil can wrap itself in whatever wrapper serves it.  It’s not that we can point and say “he is evil” or “they are evil” as if they have always been and always will be. No, there must be some other criteria for discernment and judgment from which to make our choices.  Red and Blue although convenient politically and expedient, never hold the whole truth. And those who mindlessly follow this rainbow have been duped.

         But in fact that’s not what I sat down to write about at all.  Rather, my pen comes to paper to talk about  the struggle for who I am and how I live and what this country is and how it participates in the world. Because it’s these things that have been playing out in me and through me; sometimes in spite of me and sometimes with me as the majorette, these last 6 months.  I sat down to write about the tug to join in the defiance—as it seems the only defense to the offenses of an administration that appears value-less, morally bankrupt, elitist and corrupt beyond imagining all at the same time. I sat down to write about how anything I hear from this White House and this administration sickens me—and how I don’t find that it reflects my values, my moral compass, my compassion, my hopes or dreams for a Great Nation. 

         However even beyond that, I sat down to write about how this tragedy of an administration has succeeded in more ways than I care to admit to suck me into the swamp with them.  How I’ve responded most often with a visceral revulsion. How when I look back at some of the things I’ve said or implied…I don’t recognize the person who would say that in that way.  I sat down to write about this division within me created by the chaos around me and to put it into words as a step towards healing and change.

         Because it’s not the Tale of Two Cities, or two countries or two nations really as Dickens might write. And it’s not even simply the divergent path in the woods of Frost.  But in bold Stevenson language—what I’ve been experiencing in my own self really is: “In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be we are.”


          And there it is… “in our own hands lies the power to choose…”  I am coming to realize that in a situation of awful consequences and proportions, in a battle for a way of life and a way forward for those who come behind us, we are not well served allowing ourselves (allowing myself) to be carried on by emotion or chided by negativity.  That I (we) must dig deeper than that to be a part of the solution instead of simply being a participant in the fallout.  We must dig deeper, you and I because it lies in our hands to choose—and what we want most to be we are.


          It’s a take on the Native American proverb told about a young boy asking his grandfather about the pull in his own nature.  The grandfather said there are two wolves at war within you, one for good and one for evil.  “Which one wins?” the young man wanted to know.  To which the wise grandfather replied: “the one you feed.”

          I like the word Julia Cameron coined “crazy makers.”  We all have someone(s) that come to mind in our life even when we hear that word for the first time.  In my opinion, since January “crazy makers” have moved in to the most respected institution and highest offices of our country.  “Crazy makers” are calling the shots…are bending and changing the rules.  And without paying close enough attention to the core of our very selves… otherwise sane, kind, good people have been sucked into the crazy—myself included.

         Perhaps we have succumbed to a survival mode.  We have joined in the frenzy. We have in the craziness forgotten who we are.  Which is the saddest realization of all.  We’ve started to act like them; allowed ourselves to feed the wrong wolf.  And it’s time, at least for me, to stand down.


         Shocked by one particular political cartoon, in just that moment I remembered there is another wolf to be fed.  Another strong, noble, fierce animal that depends on us for survival.  This other wolf is recognized in civility, compassion, kindness, protection of the environment, protection of the hungry, the homeless the least.  This other wolf cares for the globe and all the people who inhabit it.  This other wolf cares for the earth, its rivers, streams and air.  And  I remembered that though distracting, it’s not by becoming like ‘them’ that we shall prevail.
 
          We shall prevail as we remember who we truly are. By remembering that there is a spark of the Divine in us all.  Or my newest favorite metaphor, that we are indeed made of stardust. However you choose to consider the connectedness of the earth and all that is in it—we must choose to feed the wolf that leads towards compassion and civility, towards the protection of brother sun and sister moon. We must choose to be in partnership with those who are at risk.  In the face of manipulation, lies, power-grabs and greed; we must feed the other one…lest we perish.


          I’ve been disgusted and angry since January; I’m done with that.  Today I begin my road to recovery.  Working for what is good and right takes as much energy as throwing stones at those who work against it. Likely the former bears more fruit.  So I am emptying my pockets of all those pebbles I’ve been carrying around.  And I’m going to begin the long road ahead to being who I already know I am. Thank you Robert Louis Stevenson for the reminder that “what we want most to be we are.”  Though I got here on my own, in ecclesial language I will only be able to climb out “with God’s help.”  I seek your prayers.  

Believing and in hope,

Kathleen Bronagh Weller
thecelticmonk 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

THE PRESENT AND COMING LIGHT


Dear Friends,

        Every once in a while, I get stopped by an image.  Most often, I am reading or looking for something else when such an image seems quite simply to call my name.  It insists I pay attention. It says, “look here,” or “this is important.”  or “I’m what you were looking for.” 

        At least that’s what the image above said to me--when I saw it.  Yet I didn’t stop.  Because of course I was too busy. It’s December for heaven’s sake.  There are concerts and teas and parties and gifts to be bought and wrapped.  There’s traditional food to be made and cookies.  Don’t forget the cookies.
        Yet this particular image was persistent, so as is my habit I simply hit COPY and SAVE and it ended up in my bottomless folder of images that try to speak to me.  The ones I save for someday. And some of them have been there a long time!
        But as I read the first Chapter of John she called to me again, and I went to that folder with all those images and retrieved her.  I put John chapter 1 down and when I found her John’s Good News leapt from the page: “What has come into being in Christ, was life, and the life was the Light of all people.”  The Light of All People.
        You know sometimes, or maybe most of the time, we can get tongue-tied when we read the poetry of John’s Gospel… but this image made it more real for me than I ever knew it to be.  Christ, the light of all the people. Christ in me, my hope of glory.  Christ above me, beneath me, shining through me and you, and you…  Christ within me, illumining my heart and mind and yours.  Blessings and grace penetrating all people. 

       A second barrage of thoughts came as I sat a little longer looking at the photograph. It was only then that it occurred to me that while illuminating, it would also be consistent that the sun would necessarily be melting those on which it cast its rays.  And that similarly, when we allow the light of Christ into us… we do not control what may happen next.  Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me. Have Thine own way, Lord—

       Many of us were not taught or encouraged towards the use of pictures, representations or icons in prayer. But I often find the quiet sitting with an image, is much like the process of Divine Reading (Lectio Divina) except it is Visio Divina or Divine Seeing.  Meditating on this image revealed much about God and God’s relationship to us all in ways that words never could.
       This year we have a particularly long season of Advent—a season of waiting.  Let me encourage you to allow yourself to be stopped by something you see.  And then to tarry there is prayer. Invite the Spirit to illumine your understanding.  Take a moment to step away from all the busyness to just look and listen for a while. I’ll be praying for whatever God might be ready to birth in you this year.

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours,

Kathleen Bronagh Weller --
THECELTICMONK
P.S.  I think the above photo has all the invitations of Advent waiting.  It is saying:   

“look here,”  “this is important,”  and “I AM what you are looking for.”
                                                        To God be the glory. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Gate to the Path Ahead



Dear friends,
        For more than half of the voting public of these United States, it has been a rough week. My FB page is filled with disbelief, tears, rage, and horror expressed from across the nation— folks who are somewhere between uncomfortable or outright afraid. 
        I’ve read too much already.  Said too much already about this election.  I went from a sleepless Tuesday, to a tearful Wednesday, to an angry Thursday and a numb Friday.  By Saturday I felt like those drivers who slow down to see the crash…I just couldn’t stop watching, listening.  I woke up for the 5th night in a row at 2:00 a.m. staring at the ceiling, my mind racing.  And I thought to myself, "think of something beautiful.  Picture something beautiful." 
        So this is sad, but for the longest time I couldn’t.  I couldn’t pull up an image in my mind of one sunrise or sunset.  I couldn’t find image of (one of all the photo’s I’ve taken) trees, or paths or birds.  As I laid there I could name those things that were beautiful to me, but couldn’t make the neuropathways work to give me an image.  By now it was no longer sad, but scary.
        Only slowly a gate came to mind [we can do the Freudian interpretation some other time.]  A particular gate that I took a photograph of in 2011 at Holy Cross Monastery in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland.  Those who know me well, will already know that Holy Cross is a Benedictine Monastery founded for the express purpose of reconciliation.  Somewhere deep inside, my subconscious chose this image in which I could seek refuge in which there was beauty.
        So while I went through some pretty average stages of grief this week… from anger to lamenting to anger and back again…I knew it could not continue.  My spirit, as Spirit is wont to do said “enough is enough--move on--more specifically, move through the gate."
        My righteous anger will still lead me in things to do to combat the barbarianisms of the president elect we saw and heard over the past 18 months.  I shall still work to do justice (for all), love mercy (for all) and walk humbly with my God hand in hand with indigenous people, migrant workers, the LBGTQ community, Muslims, sisters and anyone else marginalized.
        But it’s time for me to walk through the gate; leaving all that is past behind and reaching toward the goal.  What that means is that I will take control of myself and react in another way when the tears flow and the rage erupts. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, I will look for something beautiful, something pleasing, something kind and generous to offer instead of more anger and hate.
        It’s time for me to walk through the gate; to at least (hopefully) demonstrate that it's possible.  No one said easy, but possible.  I’ll walk through the gate given to me twice now at low moments in my life—and allow it to remind me that this is a new moment...now this is…now this is… and I have a choice in how to approach each new moment. Okay, I’m not perfect.  It’s likely some idiot will post something bogus on FB and I’ll be compelled to reply. I want to apologize in advance.
       Yet it is time for me to walk through the gate.  And I invite you to find your own image or metaphor and to hold onto it too.  I'll begin on the road to reconciliation by posting one beautiful thing each day on the FB page of Peace River Spirituality Center and Sanctuary House of Sarasota. That way, something other than disgust will sprinkle through folks newsfeeds and minds. Offering beauty is a start to a new ending.
        If you are not ready to move towards your deep, unflappable center right now, I get it.  If you need to be angry and outraged a little longer, I understand.  If sadness still has you tightly bound, I’m so sorry for your pain.  We all have our own unique rhythm. 
       But here and now I go through this gate of my memory, that called to me in the darkness.  Here I go through this gate of my memory, that beckoned me to its silent beauty.  Here I go through this gate of my memory, that reminded me reconciliation is possible… and invited me to accept it so that I might turn back and extend a hand from the unfolding place of my own healing.
        Thanks for listening to my story.  It would be my privilege to hear yours.
                                       In the peace of the Lamb,
                           Kathleen
                                       Kathleen Bronagh Weller
                                         THE CELTIC MONK

Monday, November 7, 2016

LESSONS FROM THE GAME




       

So as I sit down to write, I’m a little bleary eyed from staying up to watch the final two games of the World Series where my long-suffering Cubbies finally brought it home.


        But as the photos and comments continue to fill social media, it occurs to me that there are lessons in this historic win for all of us--lessons we may sense but have not put into words.  So I have a quartet of options—you likely could add a few of your own. 


·         The plan was new. 

·         The key players are young. 

·         The leaders prepared.

·         The playing field, hostile.


PLAN.  If you were listening, you heard over and over again that Theo Epstein was trying something new.  Building from nothing (indeed 108 years without a championship is pretty much that). He did not look backwards to a glorious past…to old ways, old rules, old outcomes. He was writing a new chapter looking forward and creating a never-seen-before path and future.


PLAYERS. I know—I don’t like it either. I want to feel useful. I am useful.  But I’m no longer a key player, but in a supporting role. My job is to get out of the way enough for the growing talented to hope and shine. I’m not the first baseman, or pitcher or even catcher anymore…I’m a line coach. It’s important to always do an honest and perhaps searing inventory of who we are in the current situation at the current moment, and take a realistic part.


PREPARED LEADERSHIP.  During a post game interview a journalist asked Joe Maddon... “How do you get ready?”  Without a moments hesitation Maddon replied:  “…honestly the other thing is meditation. I love to meditate in the morning. I'm a big believer in meditation. Whether you want to call it prayer or meditation, whatever you want to call it, that to me is very, very helpful to just really get my mind right for the course of the day. So that when you do come to the moments, and you have to make a decision you feel convicted in that decision, and that is based on what you do prior to, during, and then after.”  Great leaders work from a clear, still center and not from the voices, advice, or pressures around them. 


PLAYING FIELD.  It would have been insanely awesome for the Cubs to have won the World Series at Wrigley Field.  Indeed the thousands that gathered there, hundreds of miles away from the actual game, was impressive.  But the final runs that put the Cubs ahead and the final out that sealed the victory was won at Progressive Field in Cleveland.  The game was won in a place where most voices were against them, on the very ground of their opponent.

 I find these lessons compelling in my own life.

 I could go on (and maybe I will at some time) about the players love of the game and one another.  I could go on about their goodness—which is a new dimension in a ‘high-ego” profession. Or how they kept saying they were doing this for those who went before… for people and for a place that was not their own.  I could say more, except it makes emotions roll down my cheeks.

  So this is just a reminder of the godly and goodly things I saw in a young bunch of guys known as the 2016 World Champion Cubs.  And hoping that others might take a look and learn from them too.



In peace and much, much joy,



Kathleen Bronagh Weller

THE CELTIC MONK

  


Friday, July 8, 2016


Any religion, philosophy or world-view that does not
begin with an understanding of all creation existing in God
and God in all creation, is part of the problem.

"Let us love one another, for love is from God" Scripture tells us.
Let us live so.
Peace upon you and your house.
thecelticmonk


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Learning Atonement Anew...


  
                                
                                                                                                   

                                                 AT ONE MENT



     Just after breakfast a Mourning Dove perched on my window
ledge three stories above her earthly comfort zone.



    Upon seeing her there almost instantly ‘atonement’ came to mind.
Not the bloody kind theologians and scholars have steadily tried

to convince us of over the centuries…



    Instead, the at-one-ment of sensing her not afraid of me,

now only a foot away with a camera in hand that whirrs and buzzes. 

Nor me afraid of her, flapping and fluttering on my ten-inch wide

window ledge calling to her children or her mate in the familiar

“hoo – hoo - hoo.” Rather, we’re here together face to face without fear.



    She and I are one it seems; her purpose and mine the same.

Both of us learning to be and to become who God made us to be

before we were assigned a genus and species... like Zenaida macroura
or homo sapiens. And before we had names like Mourning Dove and
Kathleen, here now discovering our oneness with the Divine Being
from whom we came; and with each other.



    This is the Truth of atonement which Christ embodied, enabled and revealed; and which I’ve learned afresh in this sacred space of Gethsemani where
it seems all God’s creatures experience atonement.


Life wholly in Spiritus Sanctus.




Saturday, June 11, 2016

REFLECTED BEAUTY

Chapel at St. John's Abbey

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be sharing some of the poetry I wrote while away this month along with some of the photo's I took.  Hoping you will be blessed by it.    ~  KLW

Reflected beauty
        Clouds gliding effortlessly across mirrored sky-scrapers.
       Sherbet, rose and pale lavender skies Long after the sun has set on Siesta Key.
       The silhouette of your beloved on the steamy glass shower door.
      Sun-drops on the wind blown ripples of my favorite pond that look like a million points of light.
      All of these are reflected beauty.
      To which I could add the depth in the eyes of my grand-daughter in which I can see her ancestors three generations past, including me.
       Or simply the essence in each and every being…
       for isn’t all beauty reflected beauty really? Profound mirroring of the creator in every molecule of creation.
       It’s only the terminally proud who think they did it.
       It’s only the truly humble who see the Author in it all.

Be Blessed and be at peace my friends,
Kathleen Bronagh Weller~ The Celtic Monk


Thursday, February 18, 2016

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME



No matter where I live, I am a Chicagoan. It's sights and sounds (and sound-bytes) are in my head.

This week I listened to Chris Fabry Live, a radio call-in program that addressed the topic of Lent: who practiced, who didn't, why some did, why others did not.  Callers lined up with their very nice sounding rationalizations for what they had already decided was true. I find most people who call in to talk shows don't do it to listen or learn, but to share their already made up minds ;-) It was an amusing use of my 'car time'.

But it seems that the conversation has stuck with me.  So while putting my k-cup in my coffee machine this morning a metaphor came to mind regarding what I heard and it was simply this: "for the love of the game." For the love of the game, that's why we observe the season of Lent.  It's all about Love... and the game (sorry if it seems irreverent) is our relationship with/to God.  We keep Lent, we observe it, we do it, we practice it... for the love of the game.

"For the Love of the Game" is the shorthand for a clause Michael Jordan had written into his contract with the Chicago Bulls.  It seemed that pro contracts did not allow you to play/practice your sport outside of their purview.  Heaven forbid you should get hurt and no longer be a cash cow for your franchise! So he went to Jerry Krause, the Bulls General Manager and they worked out the "Love of the Game Clause"  which allowed Michael Jordan to play pick-up ball, or play anytime and any place he wanted.  Jordan believed that this extra curricular playing was one of the ways he had always used to sort out stuff in his life and clear his head.

So waiting for my coffee to brew this morning the radio call-in program on Lent and Michael Jordan's "Love of the Game Clause" collided.  That's it! I thought.  Our observance of Lent is like Jordan's love of the game clause.  Lent is an invitation offered to those on the path of God's love to sort ourselves out and clear our heads.  It's a pick-up game in reflection, in prayers, in spiritual disciplines. It's something added to our regular season just because we can and because it brings joy and growth and maybe even the good kind of tired at the end of a long day.

No one makes you play extra.  There is no coercion.  There is just the opportunity, like seeing a bunch of guys under the hoop at the park and walking over to join in.  There's just that something that wells up inside for more and encourages you to make a plan, or a promise and then work it out over these 40 days.  Just because. No glory. No cheering crowds. No extra jewels in your crown. Just for the love of the game...

Over the years, whether during Lent or not, when I've committed to a spiritual practice of one kind or another... it has always been for the love of the game and I've never been disappointed. And it seems to me now that the One I meet on the court under the lights is not Michael Jordan (although that would be very cool) but is instead the Creator and Author of all that is, was and is to come. 

No one ever had to compel Michael Jordan to play basketball.  And my two-cents is we ought not need to be compelled to commit to the season of Lent.  If you are in this thing we call our life of faith "for the love of the game" I'd really like to hear what you have decided to do to keep these 40 days.  Please do drop me an email: thecelticmonk@att.net   It would be a privilege to pray for you while you're out there on the court!

In peace and joy,

Kathleen Bronagh Weller  THECELTICMONK