Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Introduction of A Tree Full of Angels - 1

"If you can live by the best inside yourself, the worst outside yourself will crumble at your feet." ~ Laura Teresa Marquez

Before I can delve into Macrina's book, I am curious about these "beautiful places" that help to nurture creativity that she mentions in the Acknowledgments.

Chapel at Desert House of Prayer
"for the desert hills, where I found enough solitude to remember my childhood
for the poetry of the cactus - from thorns to blossoms
for the silence of my cell, which taught me more than I could hold
for the vision and courage of Father John Kane, who believed that seeds could grow in the desert."
Serra Retreat of Malibu, California. This site has a wonderful video of the drive into the retreat complex.
...for the wordless prayers of the mountains and the music of the ocean
for the dolphins with their constant reminder that life is a festival"

"for the wide-opened meadows and the rolling hills
for the bluebirds and the goldfinches and every winged thing that fills the day with song
for the whippoorwill - its lonely call and its faithful night watch..."

~~sigh~~ I can only imagine the sounds, the scents, the feel, and the overwhelming beauty of these places. All so different, yet each with bountiful gifts for those who step into their presence. I wonder if I might learn to write like some of these wonderful spiritual teachers if I soaked my soul into these places? HA!

Like many others, Macrina has observed there is a spiritual awakening taking place in the world today.  Have you stopped to check out the "spiritual/faith/Christian/religion..." magazines at Barnes and Noble? If not a magazine, go look at the abundance of books on spirituality...  Out of curiosity I typed in "spirituality books" on Amazon and received 134,871 hits!  There does indeed seem to be a yearning rising up to, as Macrina writes, "touch the depths of who we are...people to seek out ways to rekindle the soul."

Macrina then writes that everywhere she goes, she hears people talking of angels.  Now, that I have not  picked up. However, going to the ever faithful Google I discovered this movie from 2003...that I totally missed! Angels in America with Al Pacino and Meryl Streep. This show was based on an award winning production from the 1990' maybe I've just not been paying attention!

Still, angels or not, I do appreciate Macrina's concern that people today are lured by the sensational.
"The fast pace of our lives makes it difficult for us to find grace in the present moment, and when the simple gifts at our fingertips cease to nourish us, we have a tendency to crave the sensational." (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p xi)
That is Macrina's first concern...and like I said, it speaks to my heart.  Her second concern is that as we seek the sensational, "the angels", that we are missing a precious aspect of Christianity.
Word Made Flesh - by C. Shreve
"We are an incarnational people. The Word was made flesh in our midst...Here on this good earth we have become flesh with the seed of God hidden in us. The greatest of all visions is to see Christ, indeed, to see God, in the frail and glorious human family of the world." (Ibid)
Macrina writes that her book is for people who long for spiritual depth and have the courage to struggle with the eternal questions that rise in their hearts. "Although I have never seen an angel, I am surrounded by a sacred presence I cannot explain." (Wiederkehr, p xii)

The other day a man asked me what I thought was the best time
of life. "Why," I answered without a thought, "now." D.Grayson
A Facebook Friend shared, "...angels are not my thing. I will move forward accepting the difficulty of putting aside my preconceptions and enjoying the journey."

At this point, I think Macrina seems to use "angels" as a kind of metaphor for the "sensational."  Again, at this point in my reading, I believe Macrina's purpose is going to be more an awakening of my heart to the present moment that I am living finding the grace that awaits me my ordinary life and its ordinary moments.
"You are to gather up the joys and sorrows, the struggles, the beauty, love, dreams and hopes of every hour that they may be consecrated at the altar of daily life." (Ibid)
"At the altar of daily life." I'm a blue-blooded Presbyterian who only knows about the Table and very little about the Altar.  I've read in scripture about altars.  The first one that comes to mind is Abraham taking Issac to be sacrificed on an altar.  Other passages from the ancient Hebrew texts contain stories of an altar. I "think"  the early church, pulling from their Jewish roots, used an "altar" instead of the "table."

stir up the gift that is within you
Casting Crowns has a great song: The Altar and The Door There is one verse in this song that speaks to me today:

I’m trying so hard   --- there's that image of my illusion of control

To stop trying so hard  ----to admit my helplessness and lay my pride on the altar

Just let you be who you are  ---so that I can become what God created me to be

Lord, who you are in me ----God dwells within me as me

The altar of daily life is one image for me to ponder, the second image is Macrina's statement, "We live under the eye of God." Now...I don't think either of these images are "new" for me, they are just a new way of thinking about what I already believe. Yesterday I used the familiar blessing of "Christ beside you, in front of you..." which I think is saying the same thing as living under the eye of God.  God is here...all around me in creation...within others that I meet with and talk with...within the words and images of songs, art, and poetry....God is within me, because God's seed is within everything he has created. But, that is a lot for my little mind to absorb!

Macrina thinks the closer we become to God here on earth, we can also become uneasy.  She writes, 
"We are strange and lovely creatures. We can ache for God tremendously yet find ourselves getting nervous if God gets too close. After all, the closer God gets, the more we hear the call to be divinized...we prefer to keep the comfortable masks that we know rather than to go through the purifying process of becoming like God." (Weiderkehr, p xiii)
WHOA! She's right, the idea of "going through a purifying process of becoming like God" sounds way more than I am capable of doing.  Yet, I believe that God lives within me.  I journaled before I have that insight taped to my monitor.

I do not believe God wants to change "me", because he created "me" as "me"! This brings to mind that idea of "God-ness" that Joyce Rupp spoke of in The Cup of Life.

God Hunger
I do believe though that I can be more of "me" when I let go and trust God to lead me through this life. In this way, I do ache for God in my heart. I yearn for something more, a relationship that I believe is not only possible but yearned for as well by the one who created me.  I think about my relationships with my children, my parents, and my much more intensely God must feel.

Abbe de Tourville is quoted as saying, "Say to yourself, "I am loved by God more than I can either conceive or understand." Let this fill all your soul and all your prayer and never leave you. You will soon see that this is the way to find God.

So many thoughts running through my mind...God, yesterday I said that sometimes it seems hard to know you, to sink into your Word into your Truth.  I think it is hard because I live within this world and it is difficult to sometimes accept the fact that you are HERE in the midst of all this stuff! Lord, again I ask that you bless me with your Holy Spirit as I seek to find you more and more within the ordinary moments of my life. For when I do, I will have a taste of heaven, here on earth. Praise God! AMEN.

A prayer and praise to end this posting: I Know You're There

Many Blessings ~ Sandi


  1. Oh the wonderful blessing of having Sandi guide me on my journey. After rereading the same paragraph a dozen times and reading Sandi writing this morning, I will be a better person after digesting A Tree Full of Angels--I do like the word Sensations better than angels but by the end of the book, I may have a tree full of angels with sensations.

  2. I am so glad that you posted the pictures of the places in the beginning of the book. I was wondering more about the places she mentioned. I got caught up in the acknowledgments before I ever started the book. Her inspiration from the Desert House of prayer...remember my childhood, thorns to blossoms, seeds could grow in the desert. If we are planting seeds, God can and will make them grow. Praise be.