The Education of Desire
The woman stared at the fruit. It looked beautiful and tasty. She wanted the wisdom that it would give her, and she ate some of the fruit. Her husband was there with her, so she gave some to him, and he ate it too. Genesis 3:6 (CEV)
Loud, the crash and feral
thrashing of a heart
wedged in desire’s thorns
no exertion heals
the festering wound
mind wears down
folds into sheer being
draws up soft
sheets of silence
How is it for you to sit still with your conflicted heart, enmeshed and torn by desire and longing for things you do not have?
Can you stay with your wounded heart until your mind stops trying to analyze and understand? Can you trust as you surrender into the silence? Will you discover tender compassion for yourself in your own suffering?
Will you hold still while unseen hands place a poultice,
warm and moist, where you hurt the most?
Central Academy Lent 2015
1248 SW Buchanan
Each Wednesday from Feb 25 to March 25
5:30 Gather for Soup
6:00 – 7:30 Class
It is not too late to join us. Don’t worry. You will fit right in!
Call or email to let us know you are coming so we have enough cookies.
Contact Central Congregational Church
(785) 235-2376; email@example.com
I am teaching a five week class on contemplation, Prayer of the Yearning Heart. It is a great help to practice contemplation in a group. Come sit with us a spell and let peace creep into your heart.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
they toil not, neither do they spin.
The helicopters have landed. I returned home last week to find them scattered across my lawn, piled in drifts along the curbs, and clogging the gutters.
Maple keys are on an exuberant mission of fertility. Formed after the early spring flowers bloom on the maple’s branches, they hang in thick green clusters. As the fruit ripens, the color drains out of the wings. They thin to paper husks and release themselves, sailing off in dizzy circles.
These single winged wonders propel themselves by the auto gyrating principle of flight. The wing, which reminds me of a tiny squirrel tail, is counterbalanced by the weight of the seed or fruit.
Helicopters in the backyard, grass growing like weeds, a new crop of bunnies down the alley … Life wants to live, to express its live-li-ness. It cannot help itself. What Dylan Thomas called “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower” is at work here in Kansas. What sucked Jesus up from that cold slab and put him back on his feet, trotting down to Galilee, is loose in the world propagating itself in heedless prodigality.
Lately I have been noticing that how I evaluate, or interpret my experience and people is less and less important. Oh, my thoughts may be of riveting interest to me. Those closely held opinions, my ego defining and enhancing assessments about how things ought to be can enthrall me.
But now, really, am I not merely one maple key turning, floating lazy in one of millions of backyards? Am I not, too, heading for some crack in the sidewalk to insert myself into this good earth? Will I not lie resting, as my skin dries and peels away, as my seed splits and a tiny root weaves down into the substance of things hoped for?
What interests me more than my opinions is the seed – being itself, that hidden fuse in the mortal soul, which has amazing resilience and determination to express itself, to live.
I see this life in others more and more. I hear it in the subtext of conversation, hidden beneath the skin of things. It murmurs, like leaves whispering in a breeze. The ache and thrust to live, to sink into some welcoming soil, to be seen, heard, and received is an awesome power encased in the fragile, tissue thin, vulnerability of humankind.
As a species we seem always to be wanting things or not wanting things, or being angry or hurt, or disappointed, when our desires are frustrated or denied. Sometimes as rampant anxiety, sometimes as a yearning that tears and consumes, sometimes as a sigh at the end of the day, the seed strains against its waxy membrane, splitting its boundary with the need to grow and endure, sending out seeking tendrils asking: Am I all right? Will things be okay? Am I doing what I am supposed to? Will I get what I want?
When I see this collective longing buried under our anger, cynicism, cruelty, and fear, my criticism turn to compassion, my fretting to trust, and my impatience to surrender to the wind.
Life possesses us. And it will live through us. Do not believe for a moment that you can stop it. Not oil spills, economic downturns, illness, failure, not even death, not even death can stop it. For life owns death, makes it bow before it, and will reclaim all losses.
Consider the maple keys, loose in the skies. Catch a ride. And for God’s sake, for all our sakes, allow the life in your unique and splendid aerodynamic design live.
Read more about prayer at
Contact Loretta at
I didn’t start out planning to give my life to prayer. The notion sort of snuck up on me. A series of collisions, near misses, and faltering steps toward love drew me into the lap of holiness. In the confusion there were some moments of clarity. Once driving with my friend, Wanda, through Kentucky countryside lush with the aching beauty of spring, I blurted out my passion. “I think I could just live in a hut somewhere and pray all the time, but I am married and want to have children, and besides I am a Presbyterian.” I was soon to graduate from three years of seminary preparation to be a minister. We were talking about what we planned to do with our lives. Wanda turned to me, mouth open and said, “Well my God, Loretta, if someone wanted to do something like that that bad, I think God would want them to too.”
It took me a while to figure out the logistics, but for the past twenty six years I have focused my life in prayer. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that prayer has focused my life. Prayer has clarified, refined, and made more visible for me my own being and the being of all things.
I spend a lot of my time chasing after the elusive lover of our souls, scrambling after crumbs and leavings on the path. Occasionally I kick up heart stopping showers of diamonds in the dust. Like most things we deeply desire and set out to do, it hasn’t been easy.
For example, there aren’t many models. It is not that people do not pray. Research shows that most of us do in one way or another. Research also shows that many of us do not care to talk to each other about it. The person who deliberately sets out to make a life project of prayer finds few persons outside a monastery who understand this calling. A life of prayer is such an antiquated notion that if you have heard of someone who has done this, it is quite likely they are dead. I am not.
In fact there are more people than you may think, who have been stricken as I and are willing to live like beggars for love of God. I know quite a few who knock themselves out for the compelling beauty of the Holy One. They pine away for this Lover and feel lonely and afraid sometimes. They wonder if anything good can come from being hidden away in prayer. They also have a marvelously good time walking on this earth. I believe they do an incredible amount of good for us all. There could be one living next door to you right now.
At this point you may be wondering – So what is prayer anyway? Good question. We will get to that. No rush though. We have eternity.
To read more about people who pray a lot, see a new book called Consider the Ravens – On Contemporary Hermit Life by Paul and Karen Fredette. www.ravensbreadministries.com