Stories Seldom Heard
January 1, 2018
to Stories Seldom Heard. I want to thank so many of you who
sent Christmas cards and donations. We greatly appreciate them. I
would also like to welcome the interfaith retreatants who gathered
for an Advent Day of Prayer in Petaluma, CA., as well as, the
families from St Ignatius of Antioch, CA. who celebrated an Advent
Evening of Prayer.
of the year and the beginning of a new year allows us time to
reflect more deeply on our lives. Many of us are filled with
gratitude and a great appreciation for the people we love and the
world in which we live. Others of us might have lingering feelings
of regret that need to be reconciled or grieving that still needs
time to be healed. All of these feelings and more bring us to sober
moments of reflection as we begin this new year.
though in the San Francisco Bay Area we still have clear skies and
relatively warm weather, January is noted for its winter storms and
darkness. We often think of the words “dark” and “darkness” as
having only negative meanings. But on the eve of this new year many
of us will spend time in church or at home in prayer and
reflection. In this way, we could say we will enter into a kind of
darkness – a place of mystery and silence. It is not the darkness
of winter storms and power outages. Rather it is a darkness that
holds the presence of God. It’s the darkness of which Isaiah
speaks. “I will give you treasures out of the darkness, and riches
that have been hidden away.” (Is. 45:3) According to Isaiah
“darkness” can be a place where treasures are found and savored.
Rainer Marie Rilke, a poet, offers us a similar insight. He reminds
us that it was out of darkness that we were born and within this
sacred darkness all things are held in the presence of God.
darkness, of whom I am born –
you more than the flame
limits the world
circle it illumines
excludes all the rest.
darkness embraces everything:
and shadows, creatures and me,
nations – just as they are.
presence stirring beside me.
believe in the night.” (1)
Eliot, also a poet and writer, reminds us that this darkness can be
a lonely place because we become aware of our limitations and our
yearnings, but it can also be a place where we meet and are drawn
into the Mystery of God.
to my soul, be still, and let
come upon you
shall be the darkness of God.
As, in a
lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
hollow rumble of wings,
movement of darkness on darkness.....
to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting
without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
darkness shall be the light,
stillness the dancing. (2)
not take long when we listen to the words of scripture, prophets and
poets to realize that even though we are people who sit in the
darkness of suffering, incompleteness and doubt, we are also people
waiting for guidance: people waiting to be enlightened.
waiting time can be hard because it is during this time we often
become even more aware of our vulnerability, as well as our deep
connectedness with all humanity. It can be a bitter-sweet
experience. Meister Eckhart speaks of our search in this way.
an aptitude for creativity
a rich sensitivity which will make you whole
your potential for vulnerability.” (3)
this creative, sensitive and vulnerable spirit many times during the
Advent/Christmas season. Even as I did my usual Christmas visiting
I found there was a quieter more serious spirit dwelling in the
gatherings of family and friends. There seemed to be a deeper
appreciation of little kindnesses. There certainly was an attempt
for everyone to “engage” in conversation. People didn’t just talk.
They listened and asked curious and considerate questions. No one
claimed to have “the” answer, but they were listening carefully for
whispers of truth and hope. I felt God was working in our
conversations and prayer gatherings. God was actively present in
our small and large efforts as we reached out to others. God
incarnate – God with us - is alive and well in a variety of ways:
prayer, seeking the truth and in good deeds.
Teresa reminds her followers and us that we must become who we are
created to be – lovers of God and one another. Mechtild of
Magdeburg put it this way, encouraging us to have the joyous
Christ-Spirit throughout the year.
comforting words of God
With the broken
carry their secret needs
deepest silence of your heart.” (4)
hear that God works in mysterious ways. May this new year give us
the gift of deep listening and deeper understanding. As my final
offering for your consideration on this first day of the new year,
Wendell Berry gets the last word.
be that when we no longer know
come to our real work
when we no longer know
way to go
begun our real Journey
that is not baffled
one that sings.”
blessed and peace seeking new year!
Sister Patricia Bruno,
Rilke’s Book of Hours,
edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy, Riverhead Books, New York,
1996. p. 57.
The Complete Poems and Plays,
T. S. Eliot, Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1952. This
quote comes from East Coker, one of the poems that makes us the Four
Quartets. p. 127
Matthew Fox, Bear and Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico. This quote
from Meister Eckhart is on page 157.
Meditation with Mechtild of Magdeburg
Special thanks to Maria Hetherton and Mary Ellen Green who have
helped in editing this article.
"Stories Seldom Heard" is a monthly article written by Sister
Patricia Bruno, O.P. Sister is a Dominican Sister of San Rafael,
California. This service is offered to the Christian community to
enrich one's personal and spiritual life. The articles can be used
for individual or group reflection. If you would like "Stories
Seldom Heard" sent to a friend, please send a note to "firstname.lastname@example.org".
If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax
deductible contributions to Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, c/o
Sister Patricia Bruno, O.P., St. Dominic’s Convent, 2517 Pint
Street, San Francisco, CA 94115.