A Visit To See Fr. Louis

(Fr. Louis was Thomas Merton’s religious name)

I went to see you

and traveled far

some thirty-six years

and some hundred miles

hoping to receive

Finally

to stand beside

your resting grave

to contemplate your life

and curious end

Laying draped in holy jewelry

between two religious strangers

you had sunk into the earth

the weight of the world

you had always carried

and then some

So be it

you hillbilly who knows

where the secret still is hid

Deo Gratias for you

I finally found myself

a sainted smile

Two Names

“ … Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.”

Isaiah 43:1 (NKJV)

From the naming of animals in Genesis, to God’s name in Exodus, John The Baptist, Jesus Himself, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul, names matter. They carry the power of God’s essence and energy in that person.

Names in Christianity are very important. Names in AA are also very important.

My parents named me Gordon James.

My name in AA is Gordon. Yes I am one of those who say “My name is Gordon and I am an alcoholic.” And my AA friends confirm me “Hello Gordon” in who I am and what I am. Acceptance all around.

“Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.

My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (The Message Bible)

And here is my second name, James. The name I chose on my Chrismation into The Holy Orthodox Church. Named after my patron saint the Holy Apostle, St. James The Less. Why? Well, for two reasons.

This Saint James The Less is pretty much anonymous. Hardly anything about him is known. Jesus chose him as an Apostle and he probably died a martyr’s death in Egypt. That’s pretty much it.

His Saint day is also my birthday, October 9th. A kick in the pants coincidence.

So, Gordon James goes to AA Meetings, The Holy Orthodox Church, stays at home in solitude and silence (Hesychasm) and prays as best he can.

Need I say more than it all fits for me? As Fr. Thomas Hopko said ‘ … be simple, hidden, quiet and small …’ Who I try to be and what I try to do.

Joyous Penance

In all of this God has named me. Now my part is …

“For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.”

Thomas Merton

To become my True Self in God.

Theosis.

Morning Glory

Hear the rain

listen very carefully

Hear the rain

sounding like a symphony

chasing your dreams far away

Listen to the sound

hear it all around

it is morning

Hear the rain

falling on the back porch shed

Hear the rain

holy sounding in your head

whispering a psalm

Listen to the sound

hear it all around

it is morning

Hear the rain

echo on the window pane

Hear the rain

it calls out His name again

shalom Emmanuel

Listen to the sound

hear it all around

it is morning rain

To Begin Talking And Listening

In order to pray (and meditate) a man must struggle to his last breath. If we do not find prayer (and meditation) difficult, perhaps it is because we have not really started to pray (and meditate). [Italics Mine] Abba Agathon

Prayer and meditation are absolutely necessary to Alcoholics Anonymous and Christian Orthodoxy.

We will not stay sober and we will not participate in The Holy Orthodox Way properly unless we do. We will experience The Living God.

We learn to pray by praying. We learn to meditate by meditating. Simple, but not easy.

Yes. It is awkward, difficult and sometimes seemingly impossible. But, it is The Way God listens and talks through us.

God prays in us.

“Direct my will; teach me to pray; pray You Yourself in me.”

Prayer of St. Philaret of Moscow

Pray each and every day. ‘Just For Today’.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Matthew 6:34 – The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson

Pray as you can and then learn to pray as others who have been at it longer than you. Start with your own prayers of ‘Please’ every morning and ‘Thank You’ every night. Then learn other prayers from other people, places and things like The Big Book, Prayerbooks and The Saints.

“Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than ­spiritual perfection.”

Alcoholics Anonymous – The Big Book

Coming Home (Through The Narthex)

I’m surprised

to be looking at St Willibrord

Is he surprised

to be looking at me

I never would have guessed

that in 2021 I’d be looking back at him

And I’ll bet he never thought in 739

He’d be looking forward at me

Our prayers answered

Well, now

1282 years later

Here we are

One

Holy

Catholic and

Apostolic

Dutch buddies

Smiling at each other

in the candle light

Now here

forever

and then some more

St. Willibrord
Archbishop of Utrecht, Enlightener of the Netherlands, and Apostle to the Frisians