Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Romans 12

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 

More thoughts for meditation

If I were to have a tattoo Romans 12:12 would probably be it. This verse has been and continues to be a mantra for me. A daily reminder of what I want to be each day. When days are challenging, after repeating this verse a few times (in a breath prayer), I get anchored and can continue on.

At the beginning of the pandemic I read this short reflection by Howard Thurman. It has stuck with me in the very same way Romans 12:12 has. So, I would like to share it below with you. It was written during the height of the Jim Crow era. I think his call “To Never Give Up” is especially poignant in the realities of today.  

From Meditations of the HeartChapter III — Life is Alive , Reading 16 — Never Give Up 

It was above the timberline. The steady march of the forest had stopped as if some invisible barrier had been erected. Beyond which no trees dare to move even in a single file. Beyond was barrenness, sheer rocks, snow patches and strong trampled winds. Here and there they were tufts of evergreen bushes that had somehow managed to survive despite the severe pressures under which they live. They were not lush, they lacked the kind of grace of the vegetation below the timberline, but they were alive and hardy. Upon close investigation, however, it was found that these were not ordinary shrubs. The formation of the needles, etc.., was identical to that of the trees farther down; As a matter of fact, they looked like branches of the other trees. When one actually examined them, the astounding revelation was that they were branches. For, hugging the ground, following the shape of the terrain, were trees that could not grow upright, following the pattern of any kind. Instead, they were growing as vines grow along the ground, and what seemed to be patches of stunted shrubs were rows of branches growing, developing trees. What must have been the torturous frustration and stubborn battle that had finally resulted in this strange phenomenon! It is as if the tree had said, “I am destined to reach the skies and embrace in my arms the wind, the rain, the snow and the sun, singing my song of joy to all the heavens. But this I cannot do. I have taken root beyond the timberline, and yet I do not want to die; I must not die. I shall make a careful survey of my situation and workout a method, a way of life, that will yield the growth and development for me despite the contradictions under which I must eke out my days. In the end I may not look like the other trees, I may not be what all that is within me cries out to be. But I will not give up. I will use to the full every resource in me and about me to answer life with life. In so that doing, I shall affirm that this is the kind of universe that sustains, upon demand, the life that is in it.” I wonder if I dare to act even as the tree acts. I wonder! I wonder! Do you?  

Suggestions for action

  • Read today verse excepts several times. Close your eyes, rest in them. Listen to the Spirit. See what arises up in you. Pay attention and move in the ways you feel moved to move.
  • Sketch and reflect: After I first read this, I made a drawing of my little mountain of a life and the scraggly trees above the timberline reaching so hard to the sky. I reflected on what was inside me because of my past, my current situation, the evil systems around us are above the timberline and may not flourish in the ways I would dream and hope for, but yet can still can grow “despite the conditions under which we eke out our days.”

Today is Ignatius of Loyola Day. Learn about the great disciple-maker at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.