All in nature – a funeral sermon

Sun and Shadow (photo by Martin Malina, Joyce WA, August 2022)

In the memories you shared moments ago, at least a couple of you mentioned the ‘chaos’ that ensued during your family gatherings of grandchildren and great-grandchildren descending en masse. I like the term you used with me just before the start of this service: “My home was jungle!” Jungle. The image of intertwining vines and large limbs of trees pressed in close together. I love it!

During one of the last times that I met with Vladimir, I interrupted his outdoor yard work. He was caring for his impeccable lawn, the garden, and the trees around your home. His work to care for creation extended naturally from his work to care for the human body. His scientific mind and his drive to excel were energies that defined his life. And these gifts were put to good use in the simple yet dedicated yard work near the end.

Living in the world of trees, air and light, we must confess our innate connection with the natural world. Human and nature are interconnected, entwined. This past summer I travelled with my family to the Pacific Northwest and visited coastal regions in Oregon and Washington State specifically. These regions are really all about the trees. The trees—the Sitka Spruces, Douglas Firs and Western Hemlocks— more than anything captivated my senses and thoughts.

Like the tree, we yearn “…for a place where earth and sky are joined. Trees invite us to a height that’s grounded in roots … In climbing we’re also reaching down.”[1]

Climbing, as a metaphor for life, we understand:

The tree and the human share the compulsion to climb—to reach higher and go farther. Vladimir’s life suggests that movement, physical and mental, of going higher and farther. From humble roots in Prague to world travel, taking risks, willing to make major transitions in life, emigrating to a new country during wartime, learning a new language. Not just surviving but thriving in the new world.

In feeding themselves, trees support human life, producing up to thirty percent of the oxygen in our atmosphere. Trees absorb our carbon dioxide even as we inhale their oxygen. There’s nothing mystical about the fact that trees and humans breathe each other. We help each other grow, reach higher!

Indeed, in our climbing we confess our love affair with light. If photosynthesis uses light to produce oxygen, heliotropism is a tree’s capacity to get more light. Trees extend their branches in every direction to reach the greatest possible sunlight. Plants and trees bend toward the sun as they grow.

But in climbing we are also reaching down. What is meant by reaching down? Here we explore the paradox of life and death.

The roots—what’s beneath the surface, not at first visible. In some hardwood trees especially, like the cottonwood, the roots can expand beneath the surface of the earth in every direction, making its root system twice as wide as the tree is tall. It’s what happens underneath the surface that is truly fascinating.

Scientists are finding that trees communicate with each other through an underground fungal network. This network allows them to share food and water with adjacent trees, nursing their sick neighbours as may be needed. It even functions as an Internet cable, warning other trees of danger—for example, the coming of bark beetles or leaf rust—by sending electrical signals across this fungal grid. Trees are social beings.

When we, as humans, take root of our life: When we grow in self-awareness, affirm what we value and live out of the truth of who we are—this is the process of ‘going down’. Which isn’t an easy process all the time. We experience the pain of loss, of change. But, learning from the trees, going down to take root is but another way of going up. The paradox: Taking root of our lives is the spiritual way of growing up, reaching out, and leaning towards the light, the sun.

The bible is full of tree metaphors and images. The fig tree in the story Jesus tells[2] describes a reality we all must face: the death of a tree represents our own death. What use is there in death? Our impulse, quite understandable, is like the man who petitioned the gardener: Cut it down. Get rid of it. Because it hasn’t produced anything. And it isn’t producing anything anymore. What value is in that?

But God pulls the rug from underneath our initial expectations. God is a God of second chances. God never gives up on us. Even if it has the appearance of death, you never know. What’s under the surface may still yield more than we can ever imagine. What is not visible can still bring forth abundance.

Vladimir’s body has returned to earth. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust—we will say shortly at the inurnment. But his body, his life still has meaning, still offers nature the rudimentary building blocks for life on earth, nourishing the growth of new things all around us, nourishing growth in our souls. In our memories. In our hearts. In the legacy he leaves. 

We pray that what was good in his life will continue to be good in ours; what he valued and sacrificed and made good for others we would value, sacrifice, and make good for others.

For life never gives up. God’s life and love never end. At the end of the bible, we find another tree.[3] It grows right on the shores of the River of Life. Continually being fed by a water source that never ends, the tree lives forever.

[1] Belden C. Lane. “Trees” in The Great Conversation: Nature and the Care of the Soul (New York: Oxford University Press, kindle edition, 2019), p.82-97

[2] Luke 13:6-9

[3] Revelation 22:1-5

Love, love, love

Freedom (photo by Martin Malina, Long Beach WA, August 2022)
audio for sermon: “love, love, love” by Martin Malina

Love, love, love. Love is the theme in the last year of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s “Living the Faith” series for spiritual renewal.[1] Love. How we love needs to be the driving force behind any method, means and strategy for our lives, individually and collectively.

The word evangelical is in our church name, both nationally and locally. The word evangelical derives from the Greek word meaning “gospel” or “good news.” The Greek root word is used in the New Testament[2] and was popularized in the first centuries to distinguish the love-centric movement of Jesus followers, distinguish it from the violent Roman Empire that often made its own “good news” announcements to celebrate military victories.[3]

The love-movement from the beginning of Christianity onward has at its root always distinguished itself–or at least tried to– from a dominant culture more interested in competition, comparison and often violent aggression in promoting itself. History shows Christians have often failed at love.

You might not think that the parable in the Gospel reading today demonstrates a truth about love. But I think it does, albeit in a subtle and not often registered way.

The dead man who was rich on earth wants to make sure his family doesn’t make the same mistakes he did when he was alive. He cares for them. He loves them. “I beg you to send him to my father’s house … if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”[4] You could say that even in death he is loving them, expressing his concern for their spiritual well-being.

The divine answer highlights the truth—and the pain—of being distant, cut-off from our loved ones by an impassable abyss. “Between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” 

In effect, his love can no longer control others, influence them. And this is hard for us to take. But, the truth is, love is not something we can control. Never has been. Not true love, anyway. A dimension of true love emerges in this parable, precisely at this point when the dead man arrives at the limits of his influence, when he can no longer manage others’ decisions any longer. A great chasm keeps us apart.

Sometimes we feel alone, when we are separated from those we love. Sometimes we may feel unloved, because no one or certain people are not physically beside us and doing what we want them to do for us. But is this true, that we are unloved in these situations?

Here is another paradox: In recognizing our limits in relationship, and in freeing those whom we love to live their own lives, we demonstrate abiding love. Because love inevitably finds a way to express itself, without our words and without our control. Love inevitably finds a way, even across the barriers that separate us, barriers of distance, time, and even death. Through the power of prayer. In the positive energy we put into the world. In the warm heartedness of our intentions and actions. This is faith, hope and love.

What is called forth from us, is a deep trust, shown first to us in the God of the cross. Religious people may be prone to think of God as speaking and acting from above—as an authoritative voice micromanaging everything that happens in the natural world.

But Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross paints another picture altogether: God enters our lives on earth more intimately, more lovingly, from below: the meaning of the cross, the meaning of our faith, the meaning of love.

Might God be less involved in controlling or directing than in accompanying, giving space, coming alongside, like a parent providing loving support to a growing child?

Might we find the highest expression of God’s love in a somewhat reckless gamble God takes in making the world a “free partner” in its own creation? 

Might God largely let the world operate without always directly intervening—trusting its natural powers and responsibilities to evolve into something beautiful?

This is God’s freedom. And God gives the world its freedom. 

“However, God must love with God’s heart in his throat at times.”[5] God must shed tears and grieve. God must grieve at what God sees at times in our behaviour so rooted in the dominant culture of comparisons, competition and even violence in relating with others.

We can be consoled, I hope, in the words of the poet in Psalm 139: “Where can I flee from your presence?” The Apostles Creed goes so far as to affirm that in Jesus God even ‘descended into hell’. God participates and loves us even in our struggles, loves us even in our suffering and death, coming alongside us from below.

God wants us to be free to make choices and decisions. This is the expression of God’s love. To trust us, because God has empowered us in creating us. And so we can pass it on: To love another is to let them be free. Not to force them to conform to the way we are and want them to be. But to let them, in a safe space, express the unique beauty emerging in their own lives, to let them make their choices even if you disagree or wouldn’t make the same choice yourself. That is love. 

And God is there, even in our letting go. Trusting in God. Trusting God has given us enough—enough resource, enough skill, and the heart-capacity as a community to live out God’s good and loving intention for all creatures great and small.

[1] Initiated by Bishop Susan Johnson in 2018, this four-year series began in year 1 with focus on prayer, year 2 on bible, year 3 on worship and year 4 on love.

[2] In the writings of St Paul especially (e.g., Ephesians 4:11, 2 Timothy 4:5) and Luke (e.g., Acts 21:8)


[4] Luke 16:19-31

[5] Beldon C. Lane, “Taking the Great Conversation Seriously” The Great Conversation: Nature and the Care of the Soul (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019, kindle edition), p.263

Listen to the voice of creation

Hanging on in faith (photo by Martin Malina, Rialto Beach WA, August 2022)

Every year in September the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada invites members and congregations to join with Christians of various traditions in celebrating a Season of Creation.[1] 

This year’s focus on this theme is: “Listen to the voice of creation.” Our faith calls us to listen to God, and one another. But have you ever considered listening to the voice of the earth, its trees, animals, wind, water? What would creation have to say to us?

Having been outside a lot in the last couple of months, I’ve experienced the beauty and wonder of creation—along rugged coastlines, pristine beaches, in towering rainforests and on peaceful, freshwater lakes. I’ve clapped my hands at astonishingly beautiful sunsets. My heart sang in seeing and hearing the song of a sea lion swimming close to where I stood atop a cliff overlooking the ocean. I can say with gratitude that I am fortunate to have heard a happy voice from creation.

This perspective is positive. It’s like a certain perspective on God—that God should come and be heard and known in holiness, in splendour, in riches, in wondrous miracles, in universal truth, in high, moral standards. You may have looked to hear God’s voice here. As I have in the cathedral of nature. Of course, God is present in all these.

And yet, if ever you’ve camped overnight in a tent listening for the cracks of thunder during a wicked lightning storm, canoed across a wind-churned lake with whitecaps smashing into the hull of the boat, threatening to capsize you into icy cold water, or come across the silent threat of bear tracks on your backcountry hike, you will also know that nature can be chaotic, horrific, threatening and terrifying as well.

What does this say about God? What is God saying to us through the bad things, the scary things, the uncomfortable aspects of nature?

The reality of our lives does not permit only the good, only the glorious. We know, some of us more intensely than others, that life is not just peaches and cream. Even a good life. And our relationship with God, as with nature, is not just some romantic vision bathed in radiant light, some utopian perfection where there is no suffering, no pain.

“God is more feral and blood-spattered and painstricken than most Christians are ready to admit,” confesses American writer and theologian Belden C. Lane.[3]

In other words, both/and. We also have to learn to accept that while we live in the light as people of God, the light always casts a shadow. That’s just reality. There’s always a shadow in the light, and we have to live with both.

An important feature about the parables of Jesus is that he uses this Jewish way of conveying wisdom (called the mashal) and turns it upside down. We notice this especially in today’s Gospel. Because rather than stay in the familiar world of talking about conventional morality, he moves his listeners beyond the safety zone of pleasantries into a world of radical reversal and paradox. He transforms the traditional proverb into parable—which isn’t the same thing as a moral lesson.

The parable’s job is not to confirm but to uproot. You can imagine the effect that had on his audience. Throughout the gospels we hear people saying again and again, “What is this he’s teaching?” “No one has ever said anything like this before.” “Where did he get this?” “Where did he come from?”[4] We feel this tension in the story of the shrewd business manager.[5]

He is a thief and a manipulator. Shrewd, yes, but dishonest and slippery in his dealings. And yet, the rich man commends his manager’s actions. “Make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth,” is the parable’s instruction. The rich man is no example of righteousness himself: He decides to fire his manager before asking for an accounting of the manager’s work. Finally, the “children of the light” are relegated in the parable to a lower status than the more shrewd “children of this age”. 

What are we to make of this harsh word to us? Aren’t we supposed to be all goody two-shoes? Is Jesus justifying immoral behaviour? While our behaviour, good and/or bad, is often the substance—the grist for the mill—of most parables, maybe that’s not the endpoint of the parables. Even this one.

What came to my attention this week is a theme that weaves throughout the bible, and just below the surface in this story as well. Did you notice it? 

We don’t know what happened to those clients of the shrewd manager whose bills were reduced by almost half: The hundred jugs of oil owing became fifty; the hundred containers of wheat owing became eighty. Imagine if your banker came to you today and told you your mortgage is suddenly reduced by half? Imagine your total debt slashed in half! How would you feel? What would you do? Pretty good news, no?

God makes something good out of nothing. Even here. God makes something good out of something that is broken, weak, sinful. God takes a bad situation, a dishonest dealing, and does something good out of it for someone else.

The cross of Christ is the mark of our salvation. And the cross casts a long shadow through history and to the present day. So, it is in the vulnerability, the weakness, the suffering, the loneliness, and the dying of our lives that God comes to us. And makes something good. God has entered our pain and our losses in Jesus, in order to touch us and save us. This is not to romanticize suffering, idealizing it somehow. It is accepting the reality of our lives, even as Christians. 

“There is no pain so great, no loneliness so vast, no vulnerability so low, and no weakness so extensive that it will escape God’s presence,” writes our national bishop, Susan Johnson.[6] There is nothing as bad, as terrifying, as horrifying that will escape the grasp of God’s grace and God’s love. Nothing and no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace. That’s the message of the cross of Christ.

All physical shadows are created by a mixture of darkness and light. We cannot see inside of total light or total darkness. As Jesus says to the rich young man, “Only God is good.”[7] And all created things are a mixture of good and not so good.

This does not mean we stop loving other people. In fact it means we actually begin to truly love people and creatures. It means finally accepting and fully owning both our gifts and our weaknesses; they no longer cancel one another out.

We can eventually do the same for others too. We do not let another’s faults destroy our larger relationship with them. While hard work to do this, to perceive it this way, it makes love, forgiveness, and patience possible.[8] God doesn’t need much to make something good out of it. The children of the light only need to offer a small spark for God to get the fire going.

Creation has a lot to say to us. Let’s listen.

[1] Visit for information and resources.

[2]  p.262

[3] Belden C. Lane, “Conclusion: Taking the Great Conversation Seriously”, The Great Conversation: Nature and the Care of the Soul (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019, kindle edition), p.262-264

[4] Cynthia Bourgeault, Transforming Heart and Mind—A New Perspective on Christ and His Message (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2008), 23-24,27.

[5] Luke 16:1-13

[6] Donald W. Johnson and Susan C. Johnson, “The Second Article: On Redemption, Day 23, Tuesday”, Praying the Catechism; Revised and Expanded Edition (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2021), p.62

[7] Mark 10:18

[8] The conclusion of this sermon is adapted from Richard Rohr, “A Change of Consciousness: Forgiveness” Daily Meditation (, 13 September 2022)


audio for sermon “Hole-in-the-wall” by Martin Malina

One of the most anxious moments I experienced as a parent was when our youngest went on her first school trip to the local winter festival. She was ten years old. And her class rode a school bus half an hour to Pakenham in the Ottawa Valley.

The class was instructed to pair up with a partner at all times and for all the activities. At the end of the day-long outing they were to board the bus at the appointed time, bound for home.

Except Mika wasn’t on the bus. Upon arriving back at the school and noticing her absence, the teacher-in-charge immediately drove her own vehicle back to Pakenham where, thankfully, Mika was still waiting but in another part of the park.

I remember empathizing with Mika how it felt to be cut off, isolated and by herself—apart from her community. Disturbing, to say the least especially for a young child. And for her parents! Perhaps you too can relate a story from your own life about a time when you or a loved one was lost, left behind, or inadvertently separated from family, friends and community …

On the Pacific North West coast there’s a famous beach called Rialto Beach. Part of the reason it is a popular destination is the ‘hole in the wall’—a passageway carved out of one of the seastacks (the rock formations, like little islands out in the water near the shore line). 

The hole-in-the-wall forms a tunnel that can be accessed by hikers navigating the coastal trail. In fact, it first appeared to me the only way for hikers to continue their beach walk. Because besides the small tunnel underneath, a large, mountainous rock wall blocks hikers from making their way up the beach. To access the hole-in-the-wall, you have to turn towards the ocean and walk out on slippery, uneven and sharp rocks to get to the hole, walk through the tunnel, then back to the beach on the other side.

The trick is, you can only do that at low tide. When the tide comes in, the hole-in-the-wall is filled with water swirling through and crashing into the seastack. At high tide, it is impossible to get through. Hikers on both sides of the hole-in-the-wall are cut off from each other and the path.

This is especially significant for those on the north side where you find most of the camp sites and the trail continues for tens of kilometres up the beach. If you are on the north side at high tide, you’d have to wait several hours before getting through and out of the park. You can be stuck on the northside if you need to get out quickly for whatever reason.

When we visited Rialto beach we didn’t check the tide schedule for the day. We were only concerned about getting to the small parking lot on the southside as early in the day as possible to avoid the crowds. Fortunately, when we hiked the first couple kilometres to the hole-in-the-wall, the tide was very low and we had no problems getting through to the other side. We weren’t intending to hike far up the coast, so we made it back through when the tide was just starting to climb up the rocks a bit.

Jesus tells a story about a sheep who was separated from the fold.[1] There are different levels of approaching this story. But one perspective that doesn’t usually get interpreted is the sheep’s perspective. Why did that one sheep miss the call of the shepherd to gather?

The sheep were enjoying their grass. And then when it got cold, one of them shivered and realized that she had been cold for some time. But the grass was so tasty. Looking around, she suddenly discovered that she was alone. All the others had gone. And she began crying aloud. And then the shepherd, who had many sheep, missed her when he got back to the fold. And he left his ninety-nine to try to find this sheep that was lost. 

In this parable Jesus says, “God is like that.” Nothing heavy and theological about that. Very little that is dogmatic, technically, about it. Just that here is a shepherd who loves each of his sheep. And one of the sheep is doing the most natural thing in the world—and that is to eat the grass—did it with such enthusiasm and over a time interval of such duration that she didn’t know when the shepherd called. And she was lost.

And why was she lost? She was lost because she was out of touch, out of touch with the group that sustained her, the group that fed her, that gave her a sense that she counted. That’s all. And as soon as she was out there alone, she said, “I’m just here by myself. Nothing but me in all of this? I want to feel that I count with the others.”

Insulation—isolation—these are matters of the soul, something spiritual. There’s something inside of me that pulls up, that blocks the way. Sometimes we do it because we’re afraid. Sometimes we do it because we are self-centred and selfish. Sometimes we do it because we’re clumsy and awkward, and we don’t quite know how to establish a relationship or relationships with others that can float our spirit to them, and their spirit to us.

Jesus says that God is like the shepherd, seeking always to find those who are apart from community. And when they have found it, when they have found their community, then all the world seems to fit back into place. And life takes on a new meaning.[2]

Standing in front of the hole-in-the-wall at low tide, I marvelled at the power of water to forge a hole through dozens of feet of solid rock over time. As I reflected on the power of God to make a way through the impossible, suddenly a few pebbles came crashing around us. Initially I jumped back alarmed at the prospect that a rock avalanche was about to bury us alive. As it were, we barely missed being pelted by those plunging pebbles of stone.

But then another thought struck me. There’s a path up there, connecting the two beaches! I hadn’t realized this at first—a forest path farther in that circumvents the rock wall altogether.

But it isn’t an easy path to find. You have to clamber over mountains of dangerous driftwood logs forming a formidable barrier at the beach head. You have to search behind shrubbery and beach stone. The pathway to connect both sides at high tide isn’t an easy way. It isn’t the most convenient. It isn’t a way that costs the least amount of energy and time. 

But there is still a way, even at high tide when the hole-in-the-wall was submerged under thundering surf. There is another way to connect beach hikers separated by the rock wall. Just knowing that gave me peace.

With the power of water over time, God made that hole-in-the-wall. God makes a way for us to connect. God finds us in our isolated, insulated selves, cut off from what is most meaningful to us. And if not one way, God makes another way. Because God is relentless in seeking us out. God provides a path for each of us to remain connected, and find our way, in the different circumstances of our lives.

Even when it appears the way is blocked. Even when we are alone, by ourselves and isolated. By illness, by fear, by our awkwardness, our selfishness. God makes a way for us. And on this way, then, God embraces us in love, forgiveness and peace.

[1] Luke 15:4-7

[2] Adapted from Howard Thurman, Sermons on the Parables, ed. David B. Gowler and Kipton E. Jensen (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2018), p.22-24,25

Flying kites

sermon audio for ‘Flying kites’ by Martin Malina

For one week in August every year the community at Long Beach in Washington State hosts a kite festival. Tens of thousands of people from the Pacific North West and across the continent travel to the Peninsula to witness a beautiful thing: hundreds of kites painting the skies along the long and wide beachfront. 

My family and I were there the week before the festival began, and already we saw several enthusiasts testing their wares and skills at kite-flying.

Practising my faith is like flying a kite. I don’t make the kite fly. But without me doing something, the kite won’t fly. Somehow I must hold the tension in my hands. 

It’s scary. Jessica flew a couple small kites. So did I. When I held the line taut as the wind took it, I realized that flying a kite requires being able to read the wind, know its direction, and respond to its fluctuations in order to launch it and keep the kite afloat. Sometimes it pulls hard, unexpectedly. It is also scary, knowing that if you let go of the string, all is lost—literally. We have to hang on!

A life of faith is not passive. Even though living out our faith isn’t about us, we do play an important role in the much bigger picture. We have a job to do. 

On the other hand, we ruin it if we do too much, move around too much. We need to let the wind and the kite do their jobs, first. Christian faith becomes ineffective when we over do it, over-function, over-react, assuming it’s all up to us. We’ll just end up spinning our wheels and burning out despairing and exhausted from all the effort. 

In a life of faith, we need to live in that tension between giving up completely, and staying in the game. How do we live in that tension, that balance between active and passive, doing and being, taking the initiative and letting go?

Jesus instructs his followers in today’s Gospel “to give up all your possessions.”[1] A challenging word for us, today. And it’s not just one or two things. We can’t compartementalize our possessions. Give up all of it. 

The religious word for letting go is the word, “forgiveness”.[2] The question, then, turns from just material possessions to the state of our soul—our heart and mind, our attitude, our interior state of being. So, what is forgiveness?

We pray together, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” An older version of the Lord’s Prayer goes, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those endebted to us.” This talk of ‘debt’ is helpful and reflects the agrarian culture and economy of Jesus’ day, over two thousand years ago in Palestine when this prayer was first given.

In the bible, forgiveness resulted in forgiving debt. On a regular, cyclical, basis the land and all who were dependent on it were called to forgive. Let the land rest and go fallow for a year. Let those who work it be released, set free, from their endebtedness to you and the land.

This concept of “Jubilee” originated in the Hebrew scriptures out of which Jesus taught.[3]Forgiveness was a radical departure from productivity which is primarily interested in accumulation, profit and securing material possesions for oneself and one’s own.

Forgiveness begins by letting go of our continual drive for private, individual interest and gain. Closely tied to the concept of sabbath, forgiveness calls us to give from a place of release and rest. 

In all our relationships—economic, personal, family, friendships, work, school—we let go of, or at least loosen, our grip on all that we hold onto so tightly in order to give of ourselves and be generous in all our dealings with those around us.

How do we do that? Good question.

On our last day on the Washington coast, we were at Kalaloch Beach, home of the Tree of Life. As we made our way down to the beach—a good distance from us still—we noticed a solitary kite flying high above. But for the longest time we couldn’t see who, in fact, was flying the kite.

Once on the beach, we headed toward where the kite string was moored. To our surprise the kite string was tied securely to a post sticking out of the sand at the high tide water mark. No one, in fact, was flying the kite.

The winds along the coast blow almost constantly. You don’t even need to manoever the kite to keep it afloat—the winds are that strong. The persistent, relentless breezes maintain a kite’s lift and place in the sky. 

The only thing you would really need to do, for the most part, is decide at the onset how far out you wish to draw the string, how high you want your kite to fly. Once the end is secured to the post, it will fly for a very long time without you even needing to do anything.

Letting go of all your possessions is fundamentally an interior movement of the heart we call ‘trust’. Trusting something bigger than you and your efforts. This interior state of trust, then, leads to our generous, compassionate behaviour with others.

Letting go of all your possessions means forgiveness. And it’s not just a one-off – not just in one situation or with one person. Not just on Sunday mornings with our friends. But it’s curating a life of forgiveness on a daily basis, nurturing a regular pattern of forgiveness – in all our ordinary cirumstances and with others we encounter.

So, this letting go is meant to be practiced. Very few of us are born to do it naturally or easily. We need to practice—in the way we pray, in the way we manage what we have, in the way we spend our money, in the way we relate with those closest to us including with ourselves and with God.

And God’s Spirit will continue to blow, persitently, relentlessly, through all our mistakes and missteps, despite and because of our failures. The Spirit of God will always blow through the land, lifting us and all our honest and humble efforts to meet God, lifting us to respond to God’s grace and love in our lives.

[1] Luke 14:33

[2] Richard Rohr, “Letting Go of Our Innocence” in Daily Meditations (, 5 August 2022)

[3] In Leviticus 25, we find the first reference to Jubilee, as part of the law given by God to the Israelites. These verses describe God’s intent that the Israelites should remain free from slavery for all time by instituting a Sabbath year every seven years.