Paradiso

The road to Paradiso
Runs through a field of stubble
Strewn amid discarded millstones
Are lost pieces to every puzzle

The gates of Paradiso
Open with a single knock
Wade through on rising waters
You only have to walk the walk

The chasm deep inside you
Is your calling card
Reach down and stir the emptiness
Submission is its own reward

The table in Paradiso
Is prepared in all splendor
Drink from the cup of vinegar
And feel your spirit soar

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Beyond

How different life would be
Had ignorance been my forte
But I have always comprehended
Both the predator and the prey

Pretension extends neatly
Between the two extremes
Artless chatter parallels
The omniscient primal scream

A monk with rope girded round his waist
In silence weighs the two
Then stretches out beyond the brink –
To both he bids adieu

What Is Humility?

As a Catholic I believe in humility. The way of the cross is unconditional love. That is my measuring rod. All of our attempts at theology, organized religion, spirituality, worship, adoration are manifestations of our imperfect attempts to understand that which is beyond our comprehension, a God who loves unconditionally.

The way of the cross is unconditional love and when I hear words and view actions by individuals or groups, I filter it all through the unconditional love of God. A professor in seminary taught us to look at scripture through the light of the cross. He believed that the Bible is the word of God about God’s way and the imperfect way of man. Through the light of the cross we can differentiate. We can distinguish words and actions which demonstrate God’s unconditional love from words and actions which are emblematic of how humans see and act in the world. To me, humility is to step aside, say who am I to judge, and let the light of unconditional love shine through what I say and do. This is why I’m such a fan of Dorothy Day who said “The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and undeserving poor” and Mother Teresa who said “Three things in human life are important; the first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind”. These two women may be canonized saints one day…ironically because it is the last recognition they would have ever wanted.

I saw this wonderful film about the life of Saint Francis. In his lifetime he witnessed the growth of his religious order into the thousands. Not being an administrator, the governance of so many brothers was beyond his ability. At one general meeting of all the brothers, Cardinal Ugolino di Conti was also present. There were disagreements among the brothers about what direction the order should take and Saint Francis was overwhelmed. When questioned by the cardinal, Saint Francis simply knelt down, with his face to the ground. He cupped dirt in his hands and rubbed it on his face. He said, This is where I reside. I am the lowest of the low. I belong down in the dirt. The cardinal was so moved that he bent down to him and hugged him. Pope Francis, when questioned about homosexual priests, responded with, “Who am I to judge?” The Pope! Isn’t that part of his job? I was astounded. But then I thought, he gets it. He understands humility.