Thursday, January 3, 2019

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Spiritual Journey  First Thursday

OLW – One Little Word for 2019

So far I’m all over the place. I can’t choose.  Darn it… why are there so many words out there?  Who could possibly choose?  Maybe my word should be “focus.”  But… no…

So, I think I’m going to choose the word “alphabet.”  No, I’m not trying to be funny. “Alphabet” gives me a wide range of options, that is true… but there are other reasons.  I’m listening. I’m trying to discern. And several writings about the word “alphabet” have spoken to me. So I will share them, and stick with the word “alphabet” for the year. We shall see.

Frederick Buechner is one of my favorite authors.  He sees deeply into theological matters, and writes beautifully. Here is his quote titled: Alphabet of Grace.

Alphabet of Grace

LIFE ITSELF CAN BE thought of as an alphabet by which God graciously makes known his presence and purpose and power among us. Like the Hebrew alphabet, the alphabet of grace has no vowels, and in that sense his words to us are always veiled, subtle, cryptic, so that it is left to us to delve their meaning, to fill in the vowels, for ourselves by means of all the faith and imagination we can muster. God speaks to us in such a way, presumably, not because he chooses to be obscure but because, unlike a dictionary word whose meaning is fixed, the meaning of an incarnate word is the meaning it has for the one it is spoken to, the meaning that becomes clear and effective in our lives only when we ferret it out for ourselves.

Reading Buechner is a blessing to me. I recommend his works. You can find them at:

Another story, perhaps you know it, speaks to “alphabet:”

There is a story told about a Jewish farmer who,
through carelessness, did not get home before sunset
one Sabbath, and was forced to spend the day in the
field, waiting for sunset the next day before being able
to return home.

Upon his return home he was met by a rather
perturbed rabbi who chided him for his carelessness.
Finally the rabbi asked him: “What did you do out
there all day in the field?  Did you at least pray?”

The farmer answered: “Rabbi, I am not a clever
man.  I don’t know how to pray properly.  What I did
was simply recite the alphabet all day and let God
form the words for Himself.”

When we come to celebrate we bring the alphabet
of our lives.  If our hearts and minds are full of
warmth, love, enthusiasm, song and dance, then these
are the letters we bring.  If they are full of tiredness,
despair, blandness, pain and boredom, then those are
our letters.  Bring them.  Celebrate them. 
It is God’s task to make the words!
Ronald Rolheiser

With these two ideas in mind, I am listening for God’s direction, realizing that I have to find my own meaning, allowing God to choose some words for me as I go forward.

I wish peace and joy to all of you in 2019. May the year ahead of one of excellent words!