“The Flowing Grace of Now” by Macrina Wiederkehr

by Melannie Svoboda SND on November 18, 2019

Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, has written a new book. Those familiar with her writing will be excited by this news, for it has been almost ten years since she blessed us with a book.

Although I have never met Macrina in person, she and I have exchanged some emails and notes over the years. I consider her a friend. As she once said to me, “We writers have to stick together!” So, in today’s blog, I’d like to treat you to some excerpts from her new book, The Flowing Grace of Now: Encountering Wisdom through the Weeks of the Year (Ave Maria Press.)

The book has essentially 52 reflections, one for each week of the year. Every reflection is a meditation on a “spiritual teacher” in our life. Some teachers are actual people like Jesus (of course!), St. Paul, the Canaanite woman in scripture, a particular spiritual writer, etc. Other teachers include the following: the four seasons, silence, simplicity, light, darkness, your desire for God, those who have encouraged you, your need for healing, someone who needs you, your sins and weaknesses, the reality of your death.

Each reflection begins with a scripture text that leads you into the spirit of the week. Next is a brief meditation written in Macrina’s simple yet lovely style. There is a closing prayer (my favorite part!) and a final quotation from a spiritual writer such as Jean Vanier, Joyce Rupp, Max Lucado, St. Teresa of Avila, Pope Francis, Abraham Lincoln, Joan Chittister, St. Teresa of Calcutta, Thich Nhat Hanh, Henri Nouwen, and many others. I appreciated the variety!

Now for a sample from her book. Week 28 focuses on God as refuge and shield. Here is the lovely prayer she wrote:

O God beyond all names, I want to encounter the unfathomable poem that you are. O Holy One, you have pitched a tent in my heart. You are my shelter, my tree of life. You are my cave, my haven, my abode. You are the sanctuary where I dwell. I am the sanctuary where you dwell. I do not ask you to free me from the storms of life that assist my growth. I ask only that you protect me and help me make wise choices. O let it be!

(Photo from Pixabay)

Macrina concludes that reflection with these words from Joyce Rupp: “Cave of refuge, provide a sanctuary of solace as I wait for the unrecognizable future to reveal itself. Do not let my troubles steal my joy.”

At the end of the book are two helpful guides: a subject index and a scripture index. Macrina is a popular author and retreat facilitator who makes her home with the monastic community of St. Scholastica in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (I’m giving a retreat there in May so I’ll get to meet Macrina for the first time!) If you’re looking for a worthwhile gift for a friend–or for yourself!–you might want to check out The Flowing Grace of Now.

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Did anything stand out for you in today’s reflection?

Have you read any other books by Macrina that you would recommend for us?

PS: A big thank you for your prayers for last weekend’s retreat on hope at Villa Maria, PA. And a big thank you to the wonderful 35 participants. I was inspired by their attentiveness, goodness, sense of fun, and their eagerness to grow in their faith! Special thanks also to Sister Jane Marie, our hostess, for all she did to make our stay at the Villa such a beautiful experience.

Psalm 62 says, “God is my rock and salvation… my refuge.” This song, written by John Michael Talbot, is sung here by Wendy and Mary. This version of Ps. 62 has been a favorite of mine for many years. I hope you like it too.

I invited you to respond to this reflection and/or video below.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas DeFreitas November 18, 2019 at 4:23 am

The language of Sr Macrina’s prayer speaks to me very profoundly: cave, haven, shelter, tree of life, abode. I’m liking the wee semi-rhyme of “cave” and “haven.” I always have trouble remembering that God is on my side, wants my good, is my Safe Place: more embracing Friend and encouraging Guide than scowling martinet or overzealous traffic-cop. “There is no place where earth’s failings have such kindly judgment given” than in the heart of God.

I have read another book by Sr Macrina, I believe it was called A Tree Full Of Angels. It was long ago! And I’m afraid that I was in a phase of my “religious development” (at the time: late 1990s) where I was a mite too brittle to be receptive to Sr Macrina’s luminous and serene voice. I should perhaps return to it, now that I am putatively wiser and definitely older!

Wendy and Mary have lovely voices.

Peace and light to all.

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John E Hopkins November 18, 2019 at 4:50 am

“…the wee semi-rhyme of “cave” and “haven.” Well put, Tom!

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John E Hopkins November 18, 2019 at 4:48 am

Good morning, all!

Whenever I read anything by Sr. Macrina, it’s usually one of those little blurbs found on the back of a book, lauding the work of the author. But that’s about to change! Thank you, Sr. Melannie!

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Ed Johnson November 18, 2019 at 5:22 am

Sister Melannie,
My wish list letter to Santa goes in the mail this week! Sister Macrina’s latest book will be on it. I also recommend her book “Seven Sacred Pauses.” Thanks, Sister, for your thoughts. Very nice song version of Psalm 62 by John Michael Talbot.
Peace and Blessings to all.
Ed J

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Regina Davala November 18, 2019 at 6:13 am

Our SND Associates in Chardon, Florida and Covington are using Macrina’s book Abide for faith sharing this year. The Associates really like her reflections on the Scriptures, the provocative questions, and, Like you, the closing prayer of each reflection.

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Cheryl Zelazo November 18, 2019 at 7:59 am

Thanks, sister! A message I really needed to hear today. Lately I’ve really been fearing that unknowable future and need to remind myself that it is not in MY hands!

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Jean Canatsey November 18, 2019 at 8:34 am

“Do not let my troubles steal my joy.” Please, Lord, help me to always remember this one thought. It would change my life……

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Stephanie Davis November 19, 2019 at 6:56 am

I thought the same thing! May God give us the grace of joy!

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Beverly Palumbo, RSM November 18, 2019 at 8:44 am

Wonderful reflection. I just ordered the book to gift a friend from an Interfaith group I belong to. Once again thanks for the retreat with the Franciscans in Aston. God bless and at this time of Thanksgiving…I give thanks for the gift of you. Blessed Thanksgiving and God’s special blessings continue to guide you….

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Mary Therese November 18, 2019 at 8:46 am

Thank you for the book recommendation Sr. Melannie; I just ordered two copies of Sr. Macrina’s book, one for myself, and one for the woman who leads our women’s spirituality book discussion group at my church in Kalamazoo. I am acquainted with Sr. Macrina’s writing through Living Faith, and I always ponder what she has to say.

On another note, a few years back a friend gave me a book “haphazard by starlight” by Janet Morley. This book is organized from December 1 through January 6th and presents a poem a day from Advent to Epiphany. I enjoyed her varied selections of poetry, but even more her commentary. Her musings about our faith journey truly touched my heart. I also found myself looking up paintings and music she made reference to and I learned so much. (She touched my intellectually curiosity too.) I could hardly wait for each morning for my meditation time. I will read it again this dark, lovely, mysterious (and here in Michigan, very cold so far) Advent Season.

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Rhetta Phillips November 18, 2019 at 9:27 am

What a lovely coincidence. Or, what I call, one of God’s happy little surprises. This morning I began my year of reflection with this book. The teacher for this week is, the revealed face of God in all things. And here was a reflection reccomending this book to us. The revealed face of God indeed.

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Christine M Holmgren November 18, 2019 at 9:50 am

Dear Sr. Melanie ~ While I do not know the source book, there is a poignant reflection on Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet. Sister Macrina wrote it as a commentary on the Last Supper. Perhaps one of your readers can point others in the direction of its origin since it is too lengthly to print out here. Thank you Sister Melanie for your down to earth musings on life.

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Christine M Holmgren November 18, 2019 at 9:51 am

The name of the Last Supper reflection by Sr. Macrina is “God In An Apron”.

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Suzanne November 18, 2019 at 10:32 am

Melannie,

What a delightful surprise to learn of Macrina’s new book! I already ordered it. Thanks for sharing this with us.

I had the pleasure of inviting Macrina to do a retreat and book signing when she wrote “Seven Sacred Pauses” – a wonderful book if others haven’t read it. It’s a keeper to savor.

Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving to all authors who nourish our souls, including you, Melannie

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