terrorism, Manresa, and open windows

The sun hasn't poked its bright face out yet.  My brain isn't quite ready to work, so a quick post while I let my coffee do its thing. 

1.  I've been reading bits and pieces about the tragic murder of James Foley, and the seemingly out of nowhere emergence of ISIS onto the international stage.  It was timely that I listened to Krista Tippett's 2013 interview of Thich Nhat Hanh on an early morning run this week.  In the interview, one of the most compelling questions asked was how we deal with the horrors of terrorism.  The monk rightly pointed out that terrorists are the victims of their own misconceptions, but also pointed out that we must look closely at the policies which fuel conflict.  I have been reflecting this week on what this means.  It is particularly interesting to me that Thich Nhat Hanh cut his teeth on the international stage in seeking Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s support in opposing the Vietnam war.  A conflict which at the time was justified by sophisticated strategists as being necessary to impede a domino affect of communist expansion. 

Now terrorism threatens to expand as a geopolitical flavor.  Yet fear and anger beget more fear and anger.  How do we as humanity, arrest the cycle of violence?  And as Americans, are we assessing with clear eyes the manner in which our policies might contribute to fanning the flames of distrust and conflict?  How can the cancer of metastatic religious perversion and political ideology be effectively countered?  Are we even attempting to properly frame the discussion?  Many thorny questions.

Many great thinkers have called for a collective engagement in these and other great questions of our humanity.  The real trouble may be that many of us simply aren't willing to be awake enough for them.  Myself included.

2.  Several good friends will be joining me for retreat at Manresa this year.  I am counting down the days to silence.  I told my good friend Tom that one of my favorite parts is seeing St. Mary's Hall for the first time as you pull up from the highway, having by then passed many fields of sugar cane and small country homes.  It is a moment which begs for a deep exhale. 

3.  Jessica and I attended a guided meditation with Michael DeMaria this week.  I am not entirely sure if I was deeply relaxed enough at one point that I lost track of time or simply fell asleep.  Either way, it was wonderful.   

I'll leave you with a lovely excerpt from a 1930 journal entry of Frank Laubach:

To be able to look backward and say,  "This has been the finest year of my life" - that is glorious!  But anticipation! To be able to look ahead and say, "The present year can and shall be better!" - that is more glorious!

If we said such things about our achievements, we would be consummate egoists.  But if we are speaking of God's kindness, and we speak truly, we are but grateful.  And this is what I do witness.  I have done nothing but open windows - God has done all the rest.


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