Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had a wild mix of rainstorms and sunshine. I’ve noticed and probably have commented more than once on the lushness of creation here in rural New York State. It isn’t only the very healthy grass growth. I’ve been taking the measure (not literally) of how incredibly tall the trees on our property have become over the past few years. It seems the birds have taken note and have invited their relatives to move in as each morning I am awakened to more and more lusty chirping of every kind. I’m aware of all this today because the gospel for this morning contains the parable of the mustard seed, “the smallest of all seeds,” Jesus says, “yet when full-grown is the largest of all plants,” so that “the birds in the sky come and dwell in its branches.” (MT 13:31-35)
Of course Jesus isn’t just talking about seeds, trees and birds. Neither am I. I have been part of so many conversations lately, and have seen or read about conferences and topical presentations on such diverse expressions of spirituality, that I can’t help but think the energy is growing toward a broader and deeper growth of new forms of community than I would have imagined even twenty years ago. My own personal example is the most astounding to me and, ironically because of my slowness to join the world of internet technology, a marvel of worldwide communication.
About four years ago I started reading the morning lectionary texts from the US Catholic Bishops’ website in order to share prayer with two former colleagues whose deep sharing at staff meetings over eleven years was then missing from my life. We thought if we could connect in this way, it would keep us in spiritual touch with one another to some degree at least. Over the next year or two, I added e-mail addresses of a few people with whom I was doing spiritual direction until I was sending it to a dozen or so. It seemed a natural progression, when The Sophia Center for Spirituality came into existence, to continue this daily practice on our website. Now, after almost two years of this daily practice of mine, the result can only be termed a miracle of God’s grace. I know that because my computer keeps track of how many people visit each day and how many entries they read when they do. The most compelling part for me is that the countries of origin are also noted. Every once in awhile I look at the summaries. Last week there were visitors from 23 countries including such diverse places as India, Australia, Japan, Croatia, Nigeria, Finland, Moldova and the Philippines! How I would love to meet all these people! Some of them are likely people who were “just surfing” but they stopped at least long enough to read one entry of the blog. Last Wednesday, daily tallies for such readings since I began the blog reached 10,002! This could never have happened before the development of the “worldwide web” that connects us.
Clearly, God’s grace abounds and astounds and we are called, as Thomas Merton reminds us, to “forget ourselves on purpose” (for it is truly God’s work in which we participate) “and join in the general dance!”