If You See the Future

If you see the future in your dreams. If you hear the future in your ears.

If you sense the future in your center. If you capture tomorrow the way you would something falling from a shelf.

If tomorrows lands before you, accept it.

You’ll want to diminish it. You may want to send it away. But that future came for a reason.

The glimpse of it was an introduction, a preview, a window. Let it serve you for the moment.

Let it offer you a foretaste.

Who Reads Your Stuff

I read a lot of materials. I write a lot of materials.

I read books and articles and book chapters for my course of study. I read student papers and assignments for my work as a teaching assistant. I read prospective students’ applications for our clinical pastoral education program at the hospital. I read emails and cards and parts of electronic medical records.

And I write. I write a lot–most of the stuff in the above, where I read–is also where I write. I notice something in my reading and writing, something that is said over and over for persons who want to be writers, and it is that everybody needs an editor.

An editor is a person who reads your stuff, reads your work, even reads your life in order to offer you comments, feedback, corrections, and alternative ways of seeing what you created. An editor listens to your words to locate your hopes and returns what’s heard so that you both recognize yourself and stretch yourself.

Everybody needs a second set of eyes, a person who looks at what you say, judges what you say against your intentions, and helps you get your intentions into the revision. An editor takes what you create and slants it, modifies it, challenges it, and tempers it in the perfect way so that what you offer is of a better quality.

There will be mistakes in your work. Writing or speaking. Writing or living. Writing or parenting. The question is, do you have editors? Do you have partners in the work of your writing or living or parenting? Do you have sets of eyes looking from your hopes and dreams and intentions back to your words and productions and creations? Do you have persons saying how much distance stretches between those?

Choose what you write and work at and create. Choose well. But make another good choice when it comes to the editors. They will make you shine.

Archie Smith on Pastoral Prayer

The message that comes across is that prayer is private and limited to satisfying immediate needs or personal wants. Very seldom do such prayers include a quest for love of neighbor and care for the perceived enemy. Only rarely do such prayers include justice in community. Only infrequently do present-day personal prayers include an embracing of mystery, self-examination, facing our illusions, or an earnest search for God’s will (and not our own) to be done in our inner and social or public lives.4 It is even more rare to pray on behalf of those who scheme to entrap or have already have wronged us. Prayers that are all about “me,” self-maintenance, and personal or private fulfillment typically neglect care for the world. The private and self-focused prayer is seldom about interpersonal responsibility, social and mental illness, or practices of forgiveness and wider justice. It seldom concerns all sorts and conditions of life. A wider sense of justice would include care for the natural environment and the strength to build up the beloved community (which includes the perceived enemy). Such is part of an ancient and ongoing conversation.

From Smith, A. (2018). Thoughts Concerning the Pastoral Prayer. Pastoral Psychology, 67(1), 85-97.

To Come Home to Yourself

This is from John O’Donohue’s blessing entitled, “To Come Home to Yourself” and I’m holding it these days. Hold it with me:

May all that is unforgiven in you

Be released.

May your fears yield

Their deepest tranquilities.

May all that is unlived in you

Blossom into a future

Graced with love.