Riding the Wind

He rides the Wind in power and right,
Born of Eternal Light.
All goodness follow in His train,
Like comet tails, falling stars,
That fire my night.

Here light upon my soul and nest,
As spirit bird, find place of rest,
Spreading feathered wing
As shelter, and friend,
To Godly bless.

Stirring, fan the embers of my love,
To blaze anew in fire from above
Transforming dust and dross,
To forge one who walks
Amongst the flame, O Holy Dove.

©2013 Joann Nelander

A Place Apart

A desert You prepare for me.
In solitude You allure me.
An encounter awaits me,
Your heart waiting for mine.
A thousand betrayals,
Hasn’t dimmed Your vision
For Love’s elect.

©2012 Joann Nelander

Keep Praying

Here I am,
Your poor one,
Your lowly one,
Your empty one,
Kneeling in adoration..

You spread out Space and Time,
Knowing You would call me forth.
And then You did.

You called to me,
Forming me from the Earth,
You Who played among the Pleides,
Stooped to play with me.

You kissed me,
With the Breath of Your Mouth,
You filled me,
Shaping me,
Empowering me,
Placing in me a formless hope.

Hope grew with the babe,
And sought with fingers of my senses.
Peeling back the covering of Mystery,
Revealing treasures hidden in the earth,
And dancing in the heavens,

Witnessed with wonder in the Night,
The Universe invited me to You,
To join You in the dance,
For which all Time and Space,
All days and all nights,
All mystery had poured forth,
With Your Cry for Light.

Your Heartbeat created the rhythms of the constellations,
The ebb and flow of cosmic seas.
Your Heart beat for Your dream of Man,
Your dream of me.

You, given as gift,
Hidden from blind eyes,
Hidden among the stars,
Spreading across Your Time,
Filling all Your Majestic Space,
Slowly whispering Your secrets,
And revealing truths,
Revealed Ultimate Truth.
You in Your Way spoke to me.

There was more than matter wrapped in my being.
Secreted without shape,
Without form,
Without stuff,
With only the power to will,
And, thereby, to Love,
To know,
And, thereby, to seek and search,
That, in living, I might come to discover You,
With me, beside me and all around me,
Waiting for me to love You.

You, Who always knew me,
And loved me,
In my ignorance,
In my blindness
And in my very being,
Even while Sin entered in to obscure Your work,
And the wonder of me,
Graced me with a soul.

I didn’t know You.
I couldn’t see You.
I didn’t know to seek after You.
Until I saw You hanging there,
Crossing the abyss,
Above the world,
Suspended and told throughout Time,

Now, at long last, I pray,
And gasp for You, my Breath.
You are the shape of me,
Saved for an eternity
Beyond gaseous matter,
And starry night,
A Day created by the One Uncreated,
And lived in the Wedding
Of Love, of soul and Spirit-being.
For this I will,
With my indomitable will,
Keep praying.

Copyright 2015 Joann Nelander

At the Heart of All Temptation

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At the heart of all temptations … is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying, in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives. Constructing a world by our own lights, without reference to God, building on our own foundation; refusing to acknowledge the reality of anything beyond the political and material, while setting God aside as an illusion – that is the temptation that threatens us in many varied forms.
Moral posturing is part and parcel of temptation. It does not invite us directly to do evil – no, that would be far too blatant. It pretends to show us a better way, where we finally abandon our illusions and throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world a better place. It claims, moreover, to speak for true realism: What’s real is what is right there in front of us – power and bread. By comparison, the things of God fade into unreality, into a secondary world that no one really needs.
God is the issue: Is he real, reality itself, or isn’t he? Is he good, or do we have to invent the good ourselves? The God question is the fundamental question, and it sets us down right at the crossroads of human existence.
* This excerpt is from “Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration” by Pope Benedict XVI</blockquote>

PDF Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus, the Desert,Temptation – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

<blockquote>First of all, the desert, where Jesus withdrew to, is the place of silence, of poverty, where man is deprived of material support and is placed in front of the fundamental questions of life, where he is pushed to towards the essentials in life and for this very reason it becomes easier for him to find God. But the desert is also a place of death, because where there is no water there is no life, and it is a place of solitude where man feels temptation more intensely. Jesus goes into the desert, and there is tempted to leave the path indicated by God the Father to follow other easier and worldly paths (cf. Lk 4:1-13). So he takes on our temptations and carries our misery, to conquer evil and open up the path to God, the path of conversion.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>In reflecting on the temptations Jesus is subjected to in the desert we are invited, each one of us, to respond to one fundamental question: what is truly important in our lives? In the first temptation the devil offers to change a stone into bread to sate Jesus’ hunger. Jesus replies that the man also lives by bread but not by bread alone: ​​without a response to the hunger for truth, hunger for God, man can not be saved (cf. vv. 3-4). In the second, the devil offers Jesus the path of power: he leads him up on high and gives him dominion over the world, but this is not the path of God: Jesus clearly understands that it is not earthly power that saves the world, but the power of the Cross, humility, love (cf. vv. 5-8). In the third, the devil suggests Jesus throw himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple of Jerusalem and be saved by God through his angels, that is, to do something sensational to test God, but the answer is that God is not an object on which to impose our conditions: He is the Lord of all (cf. vv. 9-12). What is the core of the three temptations that Jesus is subjected to? It is the proposal to exploit God, to use Him for his own interests, for his own glory and success. So, in essence, to put himself in the place of God, removing Him from his own existence and making him seem superfluous. Everyone should then ask: what is the role God in my life? Is He the Lord or am I?</blockquote>
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<blockquote>Overcoming the temptation to place God in submission to oneself and one’s own interests or to put Him in a corner and converting oneself to the proper order of priorities, giving God the first place, is a journey that every Christian must undergo. “Conversion”, an invitation that we will hear many times in Lent, means following Jesus in so that his Gospel is a real life guide, it means allowing God transform us, no longer thinking that we are the only protagonists of our existence, recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, His love, and that only by “losing” our life in Him can we truly have it. This means making our choices in the light of the Word of God. Today we can no longer be Christians as a simple consequence of the fact that we live in a society that has Christian roots: even those born to a Christian family and formed in the faith must, each and every day, renew the choice to be a Christian, to give God first place, before the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, before the criticism of many of our contemporaries.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>The tests which modern society subjects Christians to, in fact, are many, and affect the personal and social life. It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, practice mercy in everyday life, leave space for prayer and inner silence, it is not easy to publicly oppose choices that many take for granted, such as abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases. The temptation to set aside one’s faith is always present and conversion becomes a response to God which must be confirmed several times throughout one’s life.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>The major conversions like that of St. Paul on the road to Damascus, or St. Augustine, are an example and stimulus, but also in our time when the sense of the sacred is eclipsed, God’s grace is at work and works wonders in life of many people. The Lord never gets tired of knocking at the door of man in social and cultural contexts that seem engulfed by secularization, as was the case for the Russian Orthodox Pavel Florensky. After acompletely agnostic education, to the point he felt an outright hostility towards religious teachings taught in school, the scientist Florensky came to exclaim: “No, you can not live without God”, and to change his life completely, so much so he became a monk.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>I also think the figure of Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch woman of Jewish origin who died in Auschwitz. Initially far from God, she found Him looking deep inside herself and wrote: “There is a well very deep inside of me. And God is in that well. Sometimes I can reach Him, more often He is covered by stone and sand: then God is buried. We must dig Him up again “(Diary, 97). In her scattered and restless life, she finds God in the middle of the great tragedy of the twentieth century, the Shoah. This young fragile and dissatisfied woman, transfigured by faith, becomes a woman full of love and inner peace, able to say: “I live in constant intimacy with God.”</blockquote>
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<blockquote>The ability to oppose the ideological blandishments of her time to choose the search for truth and open herself up to the discovery of faith is evidenced by another woman of our time, the American Dorothy Day. In her autobiography, she confesses openly to having given in to the temptation that everything could be solved with politics, adhering to the Marxist proposal: “I wanted to be with the protesters, go to jail, write, influence others and leave my dreams to the world. How much ambition and how much searching for myself in all this!”. The journey towards faith in such a secularized environment was particularly difficult, but Grace acts nonetheless, as she points out: “It is certain that I felt the need to go to church more often, to kneel, to bow my head in prayer. A blind instinct, one might say, because I was not conscious of praying. But I went, I slipped into the atmosphere of prayer … “. God guided her to a conscious adherence to the Church, in a lifetime spent dedicated to the underprivileged.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>In our time there are no few conversions understood as the return of those who, after a Christian education, perhaps a superficial one, moved away from the faith for years and then rediscovered Christ and his Gospel. In the Book of Revelation we read: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me”(3, 20). Our inner person must prepare to be visited by God, and for this reason we should allow ourselves be invaded by illusions, by appearances, by material things.</blockquote>
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<blockquote>From Ash Wednesday General Audience 2-13-2013</blockquote>