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    The Rain of God
    (Creighton University, Online Ministries, 2015-03-31) Gillick, Larry, S.J.
    If, or better said, when, I have a problem with my computer, I call our Help Desk here at Creighton University and they fix it quite quickly and well. I counted eleven different radio and television programs which deal with various problems.|There are financial, relational, medical, programs all centered around solving things. Cars, gardening, home-improvement and computers also have specific problem- solving programs. Everything can get fixed it seems. I have not, however, heard of any programs dealing with the problem we humans have with God.|There does not seem to be an available Help Desk for our questions about certain aspects of God, such as God's Will, God's Justice/Mercy conflict, God's creationality, that is, why did God allow evil as well as good. So we can come up with various theologies and theories, but we continue to stumble around with the unsolved. We have problems of all kinds with God, especially why God doesn't become more clear about Who God is really and why does God hide in the mystery of infinity.|On the other hand, God has a problem with us, a problem that God created, that is, our freedom, our free will. At times we would wish that God would intervene and make this or that happen. We would wish that God would send us little secret notes about what to do or not do. At other times we love making our own decisions.|We say that if God loves us, then all will end up well no matter how stupid we are about our process of deciding. God's basic problem with us is our free will and of course there is a problem about whether our wills can ever be free.|I am writing this early in the morning and a thunder storm is getting my attention. I love the sound of rain and I have had to stop typing at times, just to open my window and enjoy. Is this a distraction? I take it as an attraction and a delight. Lately I have found myself taking notice of and praying with what delights me. Falling raindrops and the smells they offer are just one of many, when and if I take the time to listen and smell. I can fuss about how things ought to be and how this or that problem can be fixed. I have spent lots of time praying at God's Help Desk, that's for sure. I am moving more to consider and reflect on my personal Delight- desk. The whole thing is about how is God going to get my attention and draw me closer in the relationship which seems both important to God and problematic.|The gift God gave us of our own wills prevents the same God from forcing us to do or not do. As I mentioned above, I have been attending God's delight-desk during my prayer-time. If God wills my attentive relationship with God, then God has to send rain with its smells and sounds to me. Perhaps those do not delight you. So each of us has to pay attention to the things that delight us and allow them to form a personal pattern of God's will taking shape in our lives. We have five outward senses which deal with the taking in of things. Thousands of sense-bites are being sorted out by our bodies every day. I am finding myself nourished and enlivened by the ones which get my attention and lighten my spirit. If I can take in enough, I tend to be moved to want to live a little longer and deeper. I love being delighted.|Now you might be wondering about whether this sort of prayer is self-centered. God is centered on each one of us and comes courting us the same way a young lad attempts to get the awareness of his heart's-desired lovely lass. God comes to us according to how we get "come-to". This kind of prayer moves from our being selfish to our being more available to be a way that God delights others through us. See, the object of God's delighting us is our sharing in God's delighting others. Listening to the rain has assisted me in attempting to delight you. It is only a glimpse and darn, the rain has stopped.
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    Stick to Your Knitting
    (Creighton University, Online Ministries, 2014-09-30) Gillick, Larry, S.J.
    There are many warnings and well-justified, about "texting" and even hand-held cell-phone use while driving. Having two eyes and only two hands is definitely a distracting limitation. Multi-tasking usually is a multi-masking of our fears of being insufficient.|There is a Latin phrase we Jesuits learned very early in formation. "Age quad agis" which means, "Do what you are doing". (Age is actually pronounced, ah-gay and agis, ah-gis, hard G.) It is the old way of reminding us to "Stick to your knitting." It relies on our hands, head and spirits being united. This was a hard lesson for me and maybe I'm still learning.|I worked as a janitor my first couple of years in the Society and my first "task" each morning was to visit each of the twenty-seven "castles" aka bathrooms and collect used paper hand towels. I had a quite large canvas bag thrown over my shoulder and did my little pilgrimage doing what I was doing.|One morning I was diligently doing in the infirmary. One of the rooms had been made into a little chapel, so I paused outside the door, knelt down for a little visit. I thought myself quite the little pious Jesuit, stopping my "doing" to pray before the Blessed Sacrament inside the room. I stood up and was about to move on with my "doing" when the Brother Infirmarian called to me to come into his office. He asked me if I had made my morning meditation and gone to mass. I humbly affirmed that I did. He then asked me why I stopped the work, the "doing" to pray. That was quite a shock, why wouldn't I, I wondered.|He took my silent response as a sign of confusion, which it was. "Your prayer, your participating in the Eucharist is prayer which prepares you to pray with your "doing", and you have not learned yet, that there are various forms of prayer and your work is one of them." I was missioned to pick up damp paper which didn't seem much like prayer to me. My mind and heart were raised to getting my work done and the only fault was that I wouldn't have done my work fast enough. Ah so much to learn!|The big insight, or little glimpse, is that prayer is not always thinking about God and then separating off from prayer by some kind of "doing". Do spouses love each other only when they think of the other? Changing diapers might move the one spouse to think of the other sometimes in thoughts less loving. The washing and changing are unthinking-ways of loving. Prayer is a "doing" which is inseparable from other "doings" which extend prayer-time into time. We do prayer, or receive prayer so that we can pray with our "doing".|I have been writing this without kneeling down or even saying little words or even thinking of God, but I have been doing what I am doing and God gave me the gifts to do both within the one "doing".|No texting while driving, but you can text while doing if texting is what you are doing. We do not pray then as the holy thing and then go off and do something we consider less holy. I am going off now to do something having nothing to do with God or prayer, except it all is and always.|It is only a glimpse enjoy the praising by your doing.
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    Partly Cloudy
    (Creighton University, Online Ministries, 2016-03-29) Gillick, Larry, S.J.
    In some grade long ago, the teacher presented us, me, with the term "whole number". So shortly after I got my mind around such a funny term, she hit me with "broken numbers". I could imagine the number eight as having two little circles, the one delicately balanced upon the other. Now what would an eight look like with only one little circles looking for its partner? Then came the word, "fractions" which sounded like "fractures" and I could imagine a five without its little horizontal cap and or its half bicycle tire missing. Whole numbers were hard enough, especially when lining them up together, combining them to form really super-whole biggies.|The Latin word, "Integer" means "whole, fresh or uninjured". Fractions are how the whole gets broken into littler ones. Numbers can be broken into really tiny things that hardly exist. I prefer round, uninjured things myself. Numbers that go beyond the amount of my fingers and toes can injure my whole brain.|Generally, we do not deal well with the incomplete, the broken, and the unwhole. While painting a fence or room or even a picture, someone coming along might tell us that it looks real good. Our natural response would be, "Yes, I guess so, but wait until it is finished, then you'll see something really good." We have in mind what it is going to look like before we begin; we know the whole, the final and fine product.|We do not deal well with the slow realization of what and how things of our industry might turn out being.|In our northern part of this country, we say that there are two seasons, winter and road-repair. Our streets and highways get so fractured by snow and ice and cold that reconstruction is all around our speeding lives. The road to personal re- integration is always under construction. Our human wholiness is the awareness that holiness is how we hold our unfinished, fragments together without being negative about our progress. God, the Creator, is constantly and continuously laboring upon us and with us to bring us back into being personally and communally whole. Because we do not live in the delusion of being "all together", we live in the Grace of being grateful, imagine this, grateful for the fractures, the partial, the almost, of our persons and lives and so we know exactly where God's Reconstruction is always taking place. The integrated person grows in loving her/his partliness.|God never says to us, "Get it together!" In prayer we hear God saying, "I'm working on it!" Holiness is living toward wholeness with patient and more patience. It is only a glimpse and incomplete.
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    Puzzling
    (Creighton University, Online Ministries, 2015-06-30) Gillick, Larry, S.J.
    I was given a wooden ball recently composed of six pieces which are now lying here on my desk waiting for me to figure out how to reform them back into the original shape. I have tried, but they just don't cooperate with my good intentions. In an hour one of my Jesuit friends is going to come to my room to show me how it is done. I want to know and I don't, because when I do find out the secret, well, it won't be a secret anymore and so will lose its attractiveness to me. What will be left is my giving the ball to someone else to frustrate them and then my saving them by expertly showing them how to solve the mystery.|Every healthy relationship must have novelty, mystery and adventure or it will dissolve. The reach must always extend beyond the grasp. Here is the key human puzzle. We want the security of the grasp while also desiring the delight of the not-quite having. This not-having-in-hand is an insecurity which is awkward, but also inviting. In almost everything, what we eventually know is that there is always more to know. Over on my shelf is an even more complicated wooden puzzle sitting there all together waiting for me to take it apart so I can try to put all its pieces back together. I avoid it and yet it silently calls to my mind and fingers.|Adventure comes from the Latin word for "coming-to" or "what's coming to me next". Some of us were around when the first rockets sent John Glenn around the world three times and came back safely. He was celebrated nine days later with a ticker-tape parade in New York City. It is kind of a ho-hum thing now to send a something three billion miles out there which sends back pictures and information about something which is now attracting our minds and imaginations. It was a tremendous historical event when human beings took off and landed on the moon. Why don't we go there anymore? The answer is that we've been there and done that. It would be one giant step backwards for mankind to keep doing the unadventurous. "Ah", but you say, "It would be safer, sure-fire, not-so-insecure." What we know is always a definite invitation to our going beyond.|A long time ago, we learned in Education 101 about Herbart's Law of Apperception which stated that we learn the new on the basis of the old. That is good enough if education is what we're about. What if what is important is to learn that adventure is about learning that the new must stay new and not become old by squeezing it. It is about holding it as sacred and waiting for it to deepen us rather than broadening us. Knowledge is a good thing, but not the only thing. Wisdom seems to be rooted in wondering, in the reception of the beyond in everything and everyone. What's out there has its importance; what's in there invites us beyond our heads because there is always the more in there than can meet the eye.|Our Jewish ancestors were called out into the desert where there is always nothing around, or so it seemed to them. They complained of course, because there wasn't anything of the familiar or secure, such as bread, meat and water. What they found out there, in the desert, was what in there, in themselves which was more important, yet embarrassing and humbling. They were learning the new on the basis of the sacredness of the new.|The Spiritual Life enters us into this complication of wanting to have and yet wanting to keep growing beyond what we have. Jesus kept calling His disciples to their letting go of the familiar, the secure. God is not an idle idol. God created us not to idolatry nor to idletry where we just sit down in the comfort of knowing what life is, what God is, what we are all about and there's not anything more than what we know. Security can become an idol and fear how we worship that illusion. We are created for a restless peacefulness of knowing that we don't know, of having what we want more of and of holding while reaching at the same time. The Spiritual Life is our living beyond what I am writing. If this is complete, but not quite, then it is a good offering. Jesus came to save us not to solve us and not giving us the idea that we can solve ourselves, everybody else, and all of life's little wooden balls.|My Jesuit friend is coming in ten minutes now and I am going to give the ball one more shot, because I want to solve it myself and I don't want him to show me and yet do. It is only a glimpse, love the puzzles and don't squeeze the mysteries too much.
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    Let's Get Personal
    (Creighton University, Online Ministries, 2014-07-29) Gillick, Larry, S.J.
    Two of my Jesuit brothers were walking along the beach near Santa Barbara, California. They met a man standing in the water fishing. One of these two asked the man what the name of this river was. The man looked quite annoyed and replied, "This ain't no river, this is the (blankity-blank) Pacific Ocean." In mock surprise and apparent disappointment, the smart-aleck Jesuit replied, "Hmm, The Pacific Ocean, somehow I thought it would be bigger."|I recently was speaking with a person who was worried about his relationship with his long-term woman-friend. After a bit of time, he simply stated that the "spark" was gone. He could not describe the "spark" exactly. It had something to do with the sense of romance, though he still enjoyed spending time with her. I asked him about how he felt about himself when he was in her presence. That slowed him down quite a bit. He eventually admitted that he was finding things about himself, when with her, that he'd rather not know. Somehow he thought he was going to be better and, by her being his special friend, he was being revealed to himself.|We all have expectations about the more personal things in our lives. The word comes from the Latin, (look-out) or "watch-for". We are always looking out for the "spark" or that certain something. Very few things about others, about events, about ourselves fulfill our lookings. The term "romantic" when applied to literature describes a type of writing which denies the limitations of actuality. When applied to a person, he/she loves the spark which looks past human failures in hopes that they will vanish because of the relationship. The closer we get to the reality of the other, the more the limitations of his/her actuality will be difficult to deny.|In our relationships with God we find out all those actualities which can move us to be more concerned with them than with the relationship itself. We become quite assured that God is viewing us in the same way as we are viewing ourselves. Somehow God thought we would be bigger, better, gracier. So this is the framework which we look-through. Our expectation is that God is definitely not a romantic, but an investigative realist, concentrating on our being smaller, worser and too real to be known and loved. God is a Divine Spark Whose very nature is more than feeling. In listening to people who do pray I find a sense of disappointment and darkness, because somehow they thought, over time, they would constantly experience that Spark and it is their fault and faults that smother the spark. Our expectations of how we should feel in prayer or because we pray, either in private or communal prayer, can be so romantic that we get depressed at our own reality and actualities.|Prayer is a relational matter and not to be measured or evaluated. Obviously we would love raptures, (whatever those are) and as in loving relationships we would desire intense intimacy and belonging. It does not take long in any interpersonal relationship to have the reality of limitations become a partner in the relationship. So too with God. I may have had a couple, a fleeting couple, of real, honest, intimate experiences of God's being this close. Mostly God is that-near, but it is real as long as I stay real in my expectations of God. I cannot make God come as close as I would wish and if God did that, I would have the expectation that God come even closer. That is just the way we are and God is.|People always get in trouble when they trip over the barrier of their too-lofty expectations of themselves or the other. It is only a glimpse and somehow I thought it would be better.