I can see! You light up my life!

The Fourth Sunday of Lent – The story of the man born blind

John the Evangelist is inviting us to ask ourselves:  Who are the blind ones?  Who are those who see?

If you have time, read the entire story for yourself John Chapter Nine.

It’s an important question for any of us who choose to lead a spiritual life or even survive when everywhere the truth is often folded / mutilated / stapled in obfuscated doublespeak.

The movie The Matrix portrayed us as  blind to reality.  We don’t want to really see or know what’s going on as long as our private little worlds are not disturbed.

When we ~ ahem ~ “converse” with people online, we often don’t really know whether they’re presenting themselves for who they are or giving a false persona.

Some people only see the appearances of things.  Many of us don’t have the eyes to see the unseen and the unknowable.

Much advertising today only shows handsome young men and women.

What do you see when you wander around town?

Are you on the lookout for the truly beautiful?

Like Cindy, the bag lady I found sitting in the park knitting one day in the park next to the main library in downtown Lauderdale.

A while back I took a double take when I noticed her on a cold morning just outside the library door.  She caught my eye because she was polishing her nails a luminous pink. She had on a fuzzy cardigan to match.  I backed up ten steps to say hello.

What impressed me the most was the twinkle in her eye, her cheerful demeanor and her ready smile.

I wasn’t  nearly as self-possessed when I was homeless in the early Eighties. It ain’t pretty.  I was scared to death.

What DO you see with those eyes of yours, my friend?

Are you able to see the truly Beautiful People, like Cindy?

Can you distinguish between the real and the unreal / the true and the false /  the True Self from the false self .

In the first reading the Lord teaches Samuel, his prophet not to judge by appearances, but to SEE BEYOND / to see into.

“Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance

but the Lord looks into the heart” (1 Samuel 16:10.)

The story John  is narrating here is that “They” didn’t / couldn’t see  beauty in Jesus either! (The “They” who attack and accuse Jesus  in this story are the religious establishment of the day.)  He holds his own with them; doesn’t move — He’s confident / courageous / fearless / knowing full well what they would do to him in the end.

The ones who had it once, but lost the inner message because they were more interested in protecting their own authority rather than making God available to the people.

We need to realize that “t’is ever thus!”  We must not allow the hypocrites — or as I call them the “lipocrites” — to blind us from the beauty that is available to anyone who does have eyes to see.  No.  Don’t excuse yourself from finding God or love or a loving community of faith just because there are some who don’t get it.

Jesus healed the blind man;

he let the sensuous woman wash his feet with her hair;

hung out with sinners and the tax collectors whom the lipocrites got off on thinking they were  better than;

told people to “Love one another as I have loved you”;

let the youngest disciple lean on his breast during the last supper;

kept his mouth shut when he was accused;

and, most importantly, simply did what his Father told him to do: be obedient (stayed on message) until the very end.

And they killed him for that.

Just remember, if you choose to preach this gospel, if you tell people to see the beauty — the Christ —  in the person in front of you, whether that one  be a  bag lady / homosexual / fallen down drunk / drug addict / mentally ill, crazy man / Muslim / Republican / Democrat / Jew / Catholic / atheist / pro-lifer / pro-choicer / Martian / immigrant / anybody who thinks differently than you, they probably will crucify you too or  cast you out of your life, stop their ears to anything you say or do — just as the guys in this story John tells so dramatically did today.

God sees differently, you know.  He doesn’t divide.  God unifies.  God made us all as his children.  God sustains all of us in the present moment.

God loves us all.  No matter what.

All he wants us to do is accept his love.

And so, ask yourself, dear friend, can you see your world  and the people in it — family / friend / foe — with God’s eyes?

Can you see yourself with God’s eyes, my friend?

Many people think they’re a piece of junk and so they pretend to be somebody else.

But God made you just as you are.

He wants you to see YOU as he sees you.

When you can do that, then you will change.

The good in you will increase; the not-so-good will fall away because God himself will do the transforming.

The man who was blind was able to see that.  That was the second gift of sight Jesus gave him –

not just the ability to see trees and people and flowers but to see the with the eyes of the heart.

Why?  Because Jesus did more than give him his sight.

He touched him.

He drew him close.

He treated the man as a person.

And that, very simply, is all Jesus wants us to do:  Treat one another as a PERSON! Someone just like you.

Try it today.  With your honey who treated you like vinegar this morning. Your hyper kids.  Your nasty neighbor.  Your lousy boss.  A bedraggled stranger on the street.

That’s the message of this gospel story.

Lord Jesus,

You are truly My Light.

You help me see the beauty in myself and all around me.

My life and my world are SO different because of You!

I love You.  I delight in You.

I never know what to expect when You’re around.  I can SEE!

You have given me true sight,

the ability to see into things.

To have the courage to look at My Reality — good and not-so-good.

To see the beauty in the people in my life instead of their faults.

To look at the reality of the world around us, even if we sense a retribution is coming.

And I praise You  for you have given me the ability to use the awesome gifts  our  heavenly Father has granted me so that I may help others see beauty as well.

That’s what I want to do with my life from this moment on, Lord!

I want to help people see their own beauty!

To call it forth from them.

To walk around this world and see the beauty our Father has created all around me.

I love You, Lord.

You are My Light!

I believe that You truly are the Light of the World!

And St. Paul in today’s second reading sums it up:

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead,

and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:8-14.)

Now here’s Debbie Boone’s song “You light up my life” I always think of Jesus when I hear it.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

A thirsty man meets a thirsty woman

one of the hundreds of Florida's cool / clear springs

We’re in an important series of Sunday scriptures used to help catechumens (those preparing to meet the Lord in baptism).  In using this series of three stories (1) The Woman at the Well, (2) The Man Born Blind (next Sunday) and (3) the Raising of Lazarus, the Church all through its history asks  John the Evangelist to interpret  for us how he sees Jesus and his significance for us.

This Sunday’s gospel (March 11, 2012) has Jesus and his buddies passing through Samaritan territory. The hour’s about noon and he’s tired, hot, dusty, sweaty (I presume) and thirsty.

He sits down by Jacob’s well but has no bucket; the cool stuff is right down there but he can’t access it.  Why not take a moment to read the entire fascinating story?   (JOHN 4:1-42)

Along comes a woman with a bucket and he’s about to break all kinds of taboos:  One, Jews don’t associate with Samaritans. Two, men don’t speak to women in public. She is shocked by his shattering both of these impenetrable barriers and is quite flustered. And three, she’s not exactly a woman of high moral standing.

He soon puts her at ease by asking her for a drink, and as the great Teacher he is, he reverses the symbol and says he will give her “living waters so she will never be thirsty again.”

She’s intrigued and begins to relax into his accepting, easy manner. (We forget that He was probably a handsome 31 year old.) In fact, she quickly feels such total acceptance that she trusts him to touch her on the inside. The conversation cuts to the quick very quickly. Jesus says she has had “five husbands and the one she’s living with now is not her husband.”

Jesus has a true pastoral manner that, very sadly, so many of my friends who have left the church did not receive from a priest or their family or a community when they needed it the most.

I pray the rosary everyday and one of the new “Mysteries of Light”  has us meditate on “the proclamation of the kingdom.” At some point because I wasn’t preaching and celebrating Mass publicly I realized that I must learn how to proclaim (share ) the Good News not over the heads of masses of people but to share it as Jesus did here in a stranger’s town —  one person at a time. I ache inside when I realize so many have turned a deaf ear to the church because our lives often do not match our words or because we use harsh and condemning words which push people away and cauterize their souls instead of drawing them close.

Through my own life experience I have learned to do as Jesus did with the woman at the well. He befriended her first.  He treated her as a person. He spoke kindly. He did not condemn her but in revealing his own vulnerability (his own thirst) he brought her up to his own level.

In my videographer’s eye I can  see the two of them sitting close to each other on the wall of the well, gently conversing as Jesus listens to the story of her brokenness. Now that is the way — the only legitimate way, in my eyes — to preach the gospel — in mutual regard and respect, in mutual vulnerability.

If we keep yelling at people in harsh words we will be just tuned out.  St. Francis of Assisi is known to have said, “Preach the gospel; when necessary, use words.”

I am fiercely pro-life; I don’t even want to kill the ants on my kitchen counter.  And we have a beautiful truth to share — the sacredness of all life and the sacredness, the holiness of the ground beneath our feet — but we can only get that message across when we get down with people’s hurt and need, without judging; to cry with them and hug them instead of yelling at them. Jesus would never do that!  The only people he yelled at where the people who justified themselves and condemned others.

I repent of the times that I have been harsh with others.  And those times have been many. And I pray that, day by day by day, Jesus, the gentle One, would help me to be more and more gentle and nurturing and respectful to those I meet whose lifestyles and values are different than mine.  For I know that if I want to have any influence on them, I need to let them get close to me and let them know that, despite everything, they have a place in my heart.

The story of the woman at the well ends by telling us that this wonderful human being in Whom-God-shown-through (Gospel of the Transfiguration — Second Sunday of Lent) broke down the wall of prejudice and hostility between Jews and Samaritans so dramatically that the whole town welcomed him and he and his buddies stayed for two days.

Now THAT, dear friends, is the Jesus I know and love.  And want to be like.

Lord Jesus,

I give thanks that I have had mentors who drew me close

in whose loving embrace I received non-judgmental love

and through whose example I myself desire to love without judgment.

In my own thirst to receive the faith of those I meet and care for

may I always bring them to You, the spring of living water

so that the water you give them “will become IN THEM

a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.”

So be it! AMEN!

Here’s Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge over Troubled Waters.

Years ago when I first heard this song, I thought Jesus was / is the bridge!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

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Dear Friends,

Ash Wednesday is upon us.

And you may ask ~ what’s this Ashes thing”

We Catholics like symbols.  (So does Harry Potter.)

What do ashes mean?

What can they tell us about life? And death?  And reality?

When the priest smears ashes on the penitent’s forehead he says one of two poignant phrases:

REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE DUST AND UNTO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN,

Are we to reflect and ask

Are we just dust?  Have we made an ash-heap of our life?

Are we sitting in an ash-heap?

Is there nothing but ruin, smoldering embers around us?

If so, do we despair?

Or can we dream of re-building?

Lent is a time of hope when our life goes awry.

It’s a time to TURN AROUND ~ to make a U-turn ~ when we realize our life has gone in the wrong direction.

That’s what the word conversion means.  To simply do a U-turn.

Turn around and head in a different direction.

Get going again.

CHANGE, so you don’t keep on doing the same old thing and expecting different results.

I have a bone to pick with Catholics who show up on Ash Wednesday, get a smudge of ashes on their forehead without the slightest intention of doing what they symbolize:  CHANGE.

I invite you to go deeper into the practice of your religion.  Make the sign Mean Something!

Let it transform you from inside out.

The question is:  Do we have the COURAGE TO CHANGE?

So, let’s do Lent well — together.

During Lent, be ready to walk with him to Jerusalem

and find out who this Jesus is for you.

And what wisdom he has to offer us that will help us to change.

Whether you are  Catholic or not, perhaps you will find some wisdom,

some meaning for your life here.  Join us as we walk the journey together

as Jesus did — through suffering to death to new and risen life.

God of  pardon and of love,

Mercy past all measure,

You alone can grant us peace,

You, our holy treasure. 

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer  

Tomorrow ~ The Jesus I know and Love



I can see! You light up my life!

The Fourth Sunday of Lent – The story of the man born blind

John the Evangelist is inviting us to ask ourselves:  Who are the blind ones?  Who are those who see?

If you have time, read the entire story for yourself John Chapter Nine.

It’s an important question for any of us who choose to lead a spiritual life or even survive when everywhere the truth is often folded / mutilated / stapled in obfuscated doublespeak.

The movie The Matrix showed us we were / are  blind to reality.  We don’t want to really see or know what’s going on as long as our private little worlds are not disturbed.

When we ~ ahem ~ “converse” with people online, we often don’t really know whether they’re presenting themselves for who they are or giving a false persona.

Some people only see the appearances of things.  Many of us don’t have the eyes to see the unseen and the unknowable.

Much advertising today only shows handsome young men and women.

What do you see when you wander around town?

Are you on the lookout for the truly beautiful?

Like Cindy, the bag lady I found sitting in the park knitting the other day in the park next to the main library in downtown Lauderdale.

A while back I took a double take when I noticed her on a cold morning just outside the library door.  She caught my eye because she was polishing her nails a gorgeous luminous pink. She had on a thick fuzzy cardigan to match.  I backed up ten steps to say hello.

What impressed me the most was the twinkle in her eye, her cheerful demeanor and her ready smile.

I wasn’t  nearly as self-possessed when I was homeless in the early Eighties. It ain’t pretty.  I was scared to death.

What DO you see with those eyes of yours, my friend?

Are you able to see the truly Beautiful People, like Cindy?

Can you distinguish between the real and the unreal / the true and the false /  the True Self from the false self .

Are you prone to Ponzi schemes

– in politics / advertising / religion / the people you choose to associate with / your own self?

I say this because in the first reading the Lord teaches Samuel, his prophet not to judge by appearances, but to SEE BEYOND / to see into.

“Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance

but the Lord looks into the heart” (1 Samuel 16:10.)

The story John  is narrating here is that “They” didn’t / couldn’t see  beauty in Jesus either! (The “They” who attack and accuse Jesus  in this story are the religious establishment of the day.)  He holds his own with them; doesn’t move — confident / courageous / fearless / knowing full well what they would do to him in the end.

The ones who had it once, but lost the inner message because they were more interested in protecting their own authority than making God available to the people.

We need to realize that “T’is ever thus!”  We must not allow the hypocrites — or as I call them the “lipocrites” — to blind us from the beauty that is available to anyone who does have eyes to see.  No.  Don’t excuse yourself from finding God or love or a loving community of faith just because there are some who don’t get it.

Jesus healed the blind man;

he let the sensuous woman wash his feet with her hair;

hung out with sinners and the tax collectors whom the lipocrites got off on thinking they were  better than;

told people to “Love one another as I have loved you”;

let the youngest disciple lean on his breast during the last supper;

kept his mouth shut when he was accused;

and, most importantly, simply did what his Father told him to do: be obedient (stayed on message) until the very end.

And they killed him for that.

Just remember, if you choose to preach this gospel, if you tell people to see the beauty — the Christ —  in the person in front of you, whether that one  be a  bag lady / homosexual / fallen down drunk / drug addict / mentally ill, crazy man / Muslim / Republican / Democrat / Jew / Catholic / atheist / pro-lifer / pro-choicer / Martian / immigrant / anybody who thinks differently than you, they probably will crucify you too or  cast you out of their life, stop their ears to anything you say or do — just as the guys in this story John tells so dramatically today.

God sees differently, you know.  He doesn’t divide.  God unifies.  God made us all as his children.  God sustains all of us in the present moment.

God loves us all.  No matter what.

All he wants us to do is accept his love.

And so, ask yourself, dear friend, can you see your world  and the people in it — family / friend / foe — with God’s eyes?

Can you see yourself with God’s eyes, my friend?

Many people think they’re a piece of junk and so they pretend to be somebody else.

But God made you just as you are.

He wants you to see YOU as he sees you.

When you can do that, then you will change.

The good in you will increase; the not-so-good will fall away because God himself will do the transforming.

The man who was blind was able to see that.  That was the second gift of sight Jesus gave him –

not just the ability to see trees and people and flowers but to see the with the eyes of the heart.

Why?  Because Jesus did more than give him his sight.

He touched him.

He drew him close.

He treated the man as a person.

And that, very simply, is all Jesus wants us to do:  Treat one another as a PERSON! Someone just like you.

Try it today.  With your honey who treated you like vinegar this AM. Your hyper kids.  Your nasty neighbor.  Your lousy boss.  A bedraggled stranger on the street.

That’s the message of this gospel story.

Lord Jesus,

You are truly My Light.

You help me see the beauty in myself and all around me.

My life and my world are SO different because of You!

I love You.  I delight in You.

I never know what to expect when You’re around.  I can SEE!

You have given me true sight,

the ability to see into things.

To have the courage to look at My Reality — good and not-so-good.

To see the beauty in the people in my life instead of their faults.

To look at the reality of the world around us, even if we sense a retribution is coming.

And I praise You  for you have given me the ability to use the awesome gifts  our  heavenly Father has granted me so that I may help others see beauty as well.

That’s what I want to do with my life from this moment on, Lord!

I want to help people see their own beauty!

To call it forth from them.

To walk around this world and see the beauty our Father has created all around me.

I love You, Lord.

You are My Light!

I believe that You truly are the Light of the World!

And St. Paul in today’s second reading sums it up:

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead,

and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:8-14.)

Now here’s Debbie Boone’s song “You light up my life” I always think of Jesus when I hear it.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

A thirsty man meets a thirsty woman

one of the hundreds of Florida's cool / clear springs

We’re in an important series of Sunday scriptures used to help catechumens (those preparing to meet the Lord in baptism).  In using this series of three stories (1) The Woman at the Well, (2) The Man Born Blind (next Sunday) and (3) the Raising of Lazarus, the Church all through its history asks  John the Evangelist to interpret  for us how he sees Jesus and his significance for us.

This coming Sunday’s gospel (March 7, 2010) has Jesus and his buddies passing through Samaritan territory. The hour’s about noon and he’s tired, hot, dusty, sweaty (I guess) and thirsty. He sits down by Jacob’s well but has no bucket; the cool stuff is right down there but he can’t access it.  Why not take a moment to read the entire fascinating story?   (JOHN 4:1-42)

Along comes a woman with a bucket and he’s about to break all kinds of taboos:  One, Jews don’t associate with Samaritans. And two, men don’t speak to women in public. She is shocked by his shattering both of these impenetrable barriers and is quite flustered. And three, she’s not exactly a woman of high moral standing.

He soon puts her at ease by asking her for a drink, and as the great Teacher he is, he reverses the symbol and says he will give her “living waters so she will never be thirsty again.”

She’s intrigued and begins to relax in his accepting, easy manner. (We forget that He was probably a handsome 31 year old.) In fact, she quickly feels such total acceptance that she trusts him to touch her on the inside. The conversation cuts to the quick very quickly. She has had “five husbands and the one she’s living with now is not her husband.”

Jesus has a true pastoral manner that, very sadly, so many of my friends who have left the church did not get from a priest or family or a community when they needed it the most.

I pray the rosary everyday and one of the new “Mysteries of Light”  has us meditate on “the proclamation of the kingdom.” At some point because I wasn’t preaching and celebrating Mass publicly I realized that I must learn how to share (proclaim ) the Good News not over the heads of masses of people but to share it as Jesus did here in a stranger’s town —  one person at a time. I ache inside when I realize so many have turned a deaf ear to the church because our lives often do not match our words or because we use harsh and condemning words which push people away and cauterize their souls instead of drawing them close.

Through my own life experience I have learned to do as Jesus did with the woman at the well. He befriended her first.  He treated her as a person. He spoke kindly. He did not condemn her but in revealing his own vulnerability (his own thirst) he brought her up to his own level.

In my videographer’s eye I can  see the two of them sitting close to each other on the wall of the well, gently conversing as Jesus listens to the story of her brokenness. Now that is the way — the only legitimate way, in my estimation — to preach the gospel — in mutual regard and respect, in mutual vulnerability.

If we keep screaming at people in harsh words we will be just tuned out.  St. Francis of Assisi is known to have said, “Preach the gospel; when necessary, use words.”

I am fiercely pro-life; I don’t even want to kill a roach (I escort them out of my house!) And we have a beautiful truth to share — the sacredness of all life and the sacredness, the holiness of the ground beneath our feet — but we can only get that message across when we get down with people’s hurt and need, without judging to cry with them and hug them instead of screaming at them. Jesus would never do that!  The only people he yelled at where the people who justified themselves and condemned others.

I repent of the times that I have been harsh with others.  And those times have been many. And I pray that, day by day by day, Jesus, the gentle One, would help me to be more and more gentle and nurturing and respectful to those I meet whose lifestyles and values are different than mine.  For I know that if I want to have any influence on them, I need to let them get close to me and let them know that, despite everything, they have a place in my heart.

The story of the woman at the well ends by telling us that this wonderful human being in Whom-God-shown-through (Gospel of the Transfiguration — Second Sunday of Lent / Mark 9:2-10) broke down the wall of prejudice and hostility between Jews and Samaritans so dramatically that the whole town welcomed him and he and his buddies stayed for two days.

Now THAT, dear friends, is the Jesus I know and love.

And want to be like.

Lord Jesus,

I give thanks that I have had mentors who drew me close

in whose loving embrace I received non-judgmental love

and through whose example I myself desire to love without judgment.

In my own thirst to receive the faith of those I meet or care for

may I always bring them to You, the spring of living water

so that the water you give them “will become IN THEM

a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.”

So be it! AMEN!

Here’s Simon and Garfnukel’s Bridge over Troubled Waters.

Years ago when I first heard this song, I thought Jesus was / is the bridge!

With love,

Bob Traupman

priest / writer

LENT 2010 – a suggestion for a lenten practice


Brothers and Sisters,

For your Lenten practice for 2010, I recommend to you to just sit in silence for a few moments.  Start with two minutes and build up to twenty by the end of Lent.  There is very little silence in America today — even in Mass on Sunday.  If you are uneasy with silence, you are uneasy with yourself and with God.  So take these six weeks of Lent to learn the discipline of silence; that is,of contemplative prayer.  How to quiet your mind and open your heart.  It is the basic form of prayer of all of the religions of the world.

Many years ago I was vacationing with a friend in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina It was late at night.  A few deer were our only companions on the mountain top. It was pitch black. We couldn’t even see each other.  The stars were out all over the heavens in a spectacular display.  We were gazing toward the heavens and my friend and I were silent for the longest while.  And the silence was penetrating.  No cars, no planes, no sirens, no dogs barking, no boomboxes blasting, no words shared between us.

I still remember that moment.  It was my introduction to the awesome / all enveloping / soul-grabbing experience of  silence.   The whole moment inserted us into the mystical;  the silence itself was enrapturing.

I have loved silence now for many years.  When I was in treatment for my illness, I learned that spending an hour before the Blessed Sacrament each night in the center’s chapel allowed me some relief from my depression and self loathing.  There was consolation in the silence.  I heard God speak — words that were infused directly into my soul.

In fact, silence is the language God speaks.  Or rather, God speaks in the silence.  If we are to learn to hear God speaking to us, it is very necessary for us to learn to be comfortable with silence.

In the silence we will hear the voices that inhabit our mind and our soul — the harsh voices that may have been with us since childhood, and the soft, gentle voices of our friends, including the soft gentle Voice of God.  Elijah revealed the gift of the silence of God thousands of years ago:

“Elijah came to a cave where he looked for shelter.  Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord;  the Lord will be passing by.’  A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks — but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind, there was an earthquake — but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake, there was a fire — but the Lord was not in the fire.  After the fire was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave” I Kings 19:9,11-13.

So, the mystery of silence is where the Lord is.  When we enter silence we enter as if upon a vast ocean.  We enter upon the vast communication system of the universe; we think we hear the music of the spheres, as I was sure we did on that night long ago on the mountain top. But we also entered upon the silence of mystery.  The mystery of God’s presence almost necessarily involves silence.  Silence is the language of mystery.

Take the time this Lent to let God grab you — in the ocean of silence.

If you can’t find a quiet place, escape to the bathroom, or roll up your car window and turn up the radio and enter for a few moments your little “poustinia” your own little quiet place.  And encounter your God and encounter your True Self.

They call this Centering Prayer.

For the rest of this article which appeared in my reflection / letter Arise in 1998 click here.

For information about the origins and practice of Centering Prayer click here.

For your an audio / visual meditation “Let all mortal flesh keep silence click here.

Or with lyrics click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

priest / writer