Are we there yet?

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Week 2 Lent   Jer 17:5-10   Lk 8-15

Most unexpectedly, whilst driving on a country trip, a voice from the back seat enquired most sincerely…’are we there yet?‘  It seemed so strange – the adult asking what seemed a child-like question.  And clearly we were not there yet with still some way to go.

All our journeys are a little like that. We venture out upon the path, carrying our hopes and expectations.   But we walk in darkness really.  We don’t know the way. We must seek out light and guidance constantly.

We are always yearning for the being there – in that place of rest and solace; the place of promise and fulfillment. As St Augustine and others have remarked – our hearts restless till we find our God. If we are in familiar terrain for too long,  we fear we maybe  going nowhere or maybe we’re just bogged down.  Maybe we are circling in passivity and no longer on the path.

This is the being there we seek -being present to the now of our life  as we  follow Jesus with the Holy Spirit as our guide.  Ours is to remain and abide in simply being; a follower on the journey.

Gregory of Nyssa in the Life of Moses* tell us:”… someone who does not know the way cannot complete their journey safely in any other way than by following behind their guide. .. The one who follows will not turn aside from the right way if they always keeps the back of the leader in view.

For the one who moves to one side or brings themselves to face their guide assumes another direction for themselves than the one the guide shows them. Therefore, He says to the one who is led, ‘My face is not to be seen’ (Exod 33:23), that is “Do not face your guide.”

If the follower does so, their course will certainly be in the opposite direction, for good does not look good in the face but follows it….for what looks virtue in the face is evil.”

Discernment and companioning are gifts to each of us till we reach the end of our journey. We are simply following the way ahead to our own personal wholeness.   I am touched by the concluding retort  in “Everyone’s Way of the Cross” –

Christ speaks –       “I told you at the start, my other self,
my life was not complete until I crowned it by my death.
Your ‘way’ is not complete unless you crown it by your life.”


*Extract from Gregory of Nyssa, De Vita Moysis, ed. Herbert Musurillo-Gregory of Nyssa, Opera. vol.7 (1964) extract from The Life of Moses in Classics of WesternSpirituality. (NY. Paulist . 1978)  Paras 252-255
Everyone’s Way of the Cross, by Clarence Enzler. Ave Maria Press, Indiana.1986

An invitation

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Week 2 Lent  Today’s Scriptures: Jer 18:18-20   Matt: 20:17-28

Recently I was as asked if I won $1m how would I spend it?

Maybe  Lent is like that…  We are reminded that we are being invited to share in a great gift of graces and a new life. How will we spend Lent?

Lent is a time where we can  ponder on the true treasures we desire, our deepest yearnings and longings  and cry out for grace to truly seek after these.   The graces of healing, forgiveness and peace are at heart of our deepest desires.     All things can be changed and made new.

I make 3 offerings:   

A meditation:

An extract from short essay by Fr. Daniel O’Leary entitled “Forging in the Smithy of the Soul –Sometimes we must sweat blood to stay faithful”. *

In part he says :  “We endeavour to short-circuit the relentless call of Christ. We want to equate the increase in our religious behaviour during Lent with growth in holiness.  There is, however, no cheap grace.   …

In our mistaking of the outward ego for the inner essence we are unknowingly denying ourselves the possibility of any radical conversion.    …

In Lent we grow by dying. There is no other way. In this dying we recognise the false face we’ve grown used to, the daily lies we tell, the thoughts of deception that crowd our minds, the infidelities we do not commit only because we might get caught, the lovelessness of our lives parading as shallow compassion, our collusion with conformity, our fear of beauty and big dreams….  p.28-29

I recommend the full very short essay, contained in “Already Within” by Fr. Daniel O’Leary and his weekly reflections at: http://djoleary.com/pages/general.htm


A song   “And So”  by Kirtana    from her album “Unseen Grace.”

According to Wikipedeia  kirtana is Sanskrit for “praise; eulogy” and is call and response chanting in India’s  devotional traditions.  It involves hymns, chanting or mantras to musical accompaniment.


An image/prayer

Some days ago, I strolled among some gums and grasses quietly pondering and there before me was this short prayer – in the photo at the top of the page.  Just as it came to me…I give it to you- the Invitation to Repentance….

Feral Thoughts

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Week 2 Lent Today’s Scriptures: Isa 1:10,16-20 Matt:23;1-12

Someone recently described parts of one of my artworks as being scattered in a disordered manner….  It made me quizical …

I thought…’oh, I term that random…and isn’t that the nature of things?’ After all, we do put our own order on things and try to make them fit our sense of propriety.  And then I enjoyed the remark ..

I smirked inside knowing there is something about the serendipitous and unexepected that delights my sense of adventure.  It suggests the advent of something new; something no eye has seen or mind has known.

Random thoughts seem a little feral at times…running their own course… but then maybe they just have the “insider running” – so to speak. As things unfold, just sometimes we surprise ourselves to find the very thing that came from our mouth was indeed  a bit of “insider knowledge“.

We all have it…the subtext of the Spirit…talking through us…and the glee when we hear our own words  showing forth a gleam of brilliance or unexpected wit.

We may spend lifetimes trying to fathom the secrets of the universe and the laws…yet nothing eclipses  the awe and wonder of the unfolding mystery of  creation in all its forms.

Randomness may be termed  disorder, but I prefer to see it as a frivolity of nature and Spirit.   The Holy Spirit hovers over chaos and in time,  brings forth a sense of meaning and connectedness that we alone are unable to perceive.

Maybe it is feral what we don’t understand…the untamed thoughts and works…It is not unusual in art to find the artist is engaged in a process of self discovery and revelation. It  is easy to cling to a lifeline of a description or interpretation thrown our way to bring order  when we flounder  fathomless in our own depths.

Befriending our  feral, allows it all to be as it is – an agency for the insider knowledge ripening to bear fruit.

Patience is the gift of  which we stand much in need.  It is only in patience with ourselves that we can enter deep reaches of  compassionate understanding and tolerance.

The fruit of compassion – bearing with suffering – grows from the same Greek root of pathos – to suffer .  Our patient, long suffering and silent vigil prepares and tames  our hearts for the outer growth in works of genuine compassion.

Look inside

Blue Space by  Dark Dissolution
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Week 2 Lent         Today’s Scriptures: Dan 9:4-10  Lk 6:36-38

 A selection of  3 poems of 148 poems by
Mewlana  Jalaluddin     RUMI

There is Life-Force within your Soul

There is a life-force within your soul,
seek that life.
There is a gem in the mountain of your body,
seek that mine.
O traveller, if you are in search of That
Don’t look outside, look inside yourself
and seek That.

 There Is A Way 

There is a way between voice and presence
where information flows.
In disciplined silence it opens.
With wandering talk it closes.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Rumi,as he is know in the west,  was born  in the Persian Empire (now Afghanistan) in 1207. He was a theologian, scholar and professor who wrote great mystical Sufi poetry.

Select reading:  http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Richard-Rohr-s-Meditation–Rumi.html?soid=1103098668616&aid=8aTnVT82V-0


This page is based on an extract of poems 104 and 121 published on Poemhunter website http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-guest-house-2/

This copyrighted work accessed via Wikipedia on  Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi; and is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.


Artwork  used with permission   Blue Space by darkdissolution

Sacred Thresholds

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Week 2
Lent Gen 15:5-12, 17-18, Phil 3:17-4:1, Luke 9:28-36

Sacred thresholds seem to me to be somewhat of a  quandary?

Oxford dictionary defines  thresholds as “Limits of counsciousness, limit below which a stimulus ceased to be perceptible”.

How open are we at these entry points to the Spirit?

How open are we to perceiving and receiving spiritual encounters?

Do our thresholds  protect the sacred within or  defend against the unknown transcendent “Other”?

Have our thresholds in fact become strongholds of the mind barring our way to the unseen?

Daniel O’Leary reminds us: ” Do we forget that our senses are ‘the threshold of our soul’? “Listen, my child,” St Benedict wrote at the beginning of his Rule, “with the ear of your heart.”

Admitting the Spirit within every moment of our lives, is opening the portal of our senses to acknowledge the faith we profess.   It is opening and trusting the sensing of our heart to discern the Divine in all things.

Faith is the intentional act of seeking to find the Presence.  The intent of the seeker is to live in the Presence of the Spirit expecting and acknowledging the reality of the realm in the Spirit.

It is in  opening  the thresholds that we can behold things so differently. The cosmic connections, the mystical insight and understandings arise from a sensitive heart yielding to Truth beyond our human limits, which convicts and enlivens us.

Contemplative prayer enables us to grow in the practice of living in the Presence.

Asking questions is an important part of any spiritual journey.  It helps us clarify our direction and seek the path which is most relevant to us.  As we listen to questions which arise in our hearts we take courage to step into the unknown.   Questions open us to the unknown.  Let us ask and receive, seek and find.

Giving voice to your questions is letting the light shine on your darkness.


Suggested resources may include  –  Weekly reflections and interviews with writer, spiritual director and priest    Fr. Daniel O’Leary’s website  Begin with the Heart  – http://djoleary.com/pages/weekly.htm   

Author – of  “Thresholds of the Soul” and  “Windows of Wonder”. 

 

Out of Silence

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Week 1     Lent
Today’s Scriptures:  Deut 26:16-19   Matt 5:43-48


“Every human being has a gift,

yet often unknown;

the gift to care,

to be compassionate,

to become present to the other,

to listen, to hear, and to receive.”  

 

“Those who can sit in silence

with their fellow man (woman),

not knowing what to say,

but knowing that they should be there,

can bring new life to a dying heart.

 

“Why is it we keep that great gift

of care so deeply hidden?”

Quote by Henry Nouwen in “Out of Solitude: 3 Meditations on the Christian Life.”   p42 – 43.    Ave Maria Press, Indiana. 2004


Is 50:4-6

Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple’s tongue,

for me to know how to give a word of comfort

to the weary.

Morning by morning he makes my ear alert

to listen like a disciple.

Lord Yahweh has opened my ear

and I have not resisted,

I have not turned away.

Hidden Nature

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Wk 1 Lent
 Readings: Ezek 18:21-28 Matt 5:20-26

Have you ever been in a bird hide?

Have you ever waited silently  for the appearance of a rare species of unique beauty?

Today I found myself the quiet observer, as I exercised in the gym overlooking the pool.

My gaze was drawn to an apparent grandfather – waiting, arms wide open in the water, coaxing and beckoning a little 3 year old to jump into his arms.

She was so tentative and crouched down on the tiled edge wrapping herself in her arms and ducking her head inwards.

Slowly she stood up and motioned toward the water, but hesitated and crouched again.  And so it continued.

He constantly reassured and encouraged. She gingerly grew past her uncertainty and took her leap of faith.   Time and again he would catch her, hug her and place her back on the edge.

The play continued  until she jumped short and went under the water.

He quickly raised her to the surface and carried her to his shoulders.  She recovered her composure, hugged his neck and kissed him.

The game continued with variation, she would throw kisses to him, before she left the ledge.


Can you recall an incident which touched your heart in a special way?

Quietly revisiting our experience helps us recognize things that affect us.  In staying with  heartfelt moments, we allow them to become meaningful and not simple glimpses fading.

The important thing is not to think it through or interpret it.   Our feelings are what they are. They are real, true and personal.  They are the treasures of our heart.

Have you tracked in through the narrow path and closed the little door to perhaps catch a glimpse of the wonder of your own creation?

Prevent Truth Decay

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Lent Wk 1    Todays’s Scriptures  Esth 4:17  Matt 7:7-12

Gee…some signs of our times are good.

The wit  and poignancy of this one made it memorable for me.

We seem to hear so many versions of truth these days that we are no longer sure of our own version.  Although we grow in knowledge of our values and truths, in part we still respond to scripts given to us by parents, friends  or doctrine.

Spiritual Direction assists us to  become more sensitive to our feelings and reflect on our emotional responses. We find the things of importance, truth and meaning for ourselves.

As we journey inward and speak our truths, we begin to belong to ourselves in a fresh way.

At the heart of traditional stories, in scripture and in many indigenous cultures, is the sacredness of the land as the place of unique belonging and well-being.

Often in the spiritual journey people relate their experiences to that of homecoming to a place of belonging.  They take possession of their inner landscape from which they draw forth their meaning and identity.

“Prevent Truth Decay”    – trust and protect the sacred within.  –


A reflection from Scripture:  Jn 8:31-32 –

“If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples,

you will come to know the truth and the truth will set you free.

Unveiled wisdom

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Wk 1 Lent    Today’s Scriptures: Jonah 3:1-10  Luke 11:29-32

I awoke this morning before dawn, and all was in darkness and stillness. I saw how partially and gently light reveals the presence. Initially there is no colour  or form.  Our senses strain to codify that in which we are immersed.

Despite our inadequacy we wrest words out of the darkness to give expression to that which remains veiled and uncertain.

I am reminded of John O’Donohue’s reflection:

“Behind the facade of the familiar, strange things await us.  …  

We reduce the wildness and mystery of person and landscape to the external, familiar image. …

Familiarity enables us to tame, control and ultimately forget the mystery.”

We are furtive creatures, tentative and stumbling in the dark;  uncertain, full of doubts and hiddenness.  We do not know or admit ourselves to the mystery to which we belong, nor fully comprehend ..

“We make our peace with the surface as image and we stay away from the otherness and fecund turbulence of the unknown which it masks.”

The journey of our life is deep within, slowly being unveiled…as yet unknown…a new creation .. we are becoming.  We behold ourselves as we really are in the flux of life.

Again O’Donoghue’s gift with words expresses the wisdom of the sages, of clans, philosophers, saints and mystics:

“You do not have to go away outside your self to come into real conversation with your soul and with the mysteries of the spiritual world The eternal is at home – within you.” 

 

Dante quote  source St. Lib Vic


 

John O’Donohue – Onbeing interview.   Anam Cara means soul friend.

Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World”. Published  Bantam Books, U.K.  1999.   p.121-122

Dante’s quote.. State Lib. Vic.

 

Awareness

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First Week of Lent     Today’s Readings: Is 55:10-11   Mt 6:7-15

It seems strange that the best way of knowing ourself is through our failings.  Accepting our faults with a compassionate and true heart enables us to come into a place of inner peace and freedom.

In  loss, grief or inner distress. .. we grope in pain to embrace the hidden self  – fallible and frail.  We meet our limits and our reality  … in a way – our ‘true self’.

Our ‘true self’ is not out there floating on the clouds in some ideal person, but grounded, vulnerable and  wounded.

The radical part of this, for me,  is that in ‘knowing’ my own weakness I have also come into a ‘knowing’ of my God and grown in compassion for others. This is not new for those who have been through the valleys, but it is renewing and always a revelation.

In times of travail, as I cried out “If you are real God, show yourself .. come,”  – my mustard seed of faith,  carried in the smallest cry, reached the highest heavens.   Grace came and answered my deepest needs.  

I did not think  my deepest need was to be found in relationship with God. But this became the centre of a pivotal knowing by experience.  This was my first step into a life of faith…to call, wait and hope. This is the faith life -to live in the unknowing waiting expectantly for the light.

The Spirit meets us in our powerlessness and we are joined to a new Truth – our solace and our strength is in God alone.   All else is delusion or illusion of our mind attempting to reinterpret our deep experience.

Becoming aware of our inner truth is an ongoing process of constantly turning back and discovering God and self in relationship.

Lent is a season of grace and compassion.  It is a time in which we set aside judgement and condemnation of self and others and turn inward to find new love and realise our hopes.

Over time we get in touch with our frailty and fault lines and the Spirit leads us with a humble contrite heart to repentance, forgiveness, healing and renewed life.

We ‘Trust in the slow works of God’ ∗ and in the unfolding mystery of our lives.   The  Poetry and Prayer Pages may be helpful to your quiet reflections and include a work from ∗Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.