Would God …

Would God be diminished if I lived a question….

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What would happen if I pursued God?

If I filled my pockets with openness,
Grabbed a thermos half full of fortitude,
And crawled into the cave of the Almighty
Nose first, eyes peeled, heart hesitantly following
Until I was face to face
With the raw, pulsing beat of Mystery?
What if I entered and it looked different
than anyone ever described?
What if the cave was too large to be fully known,
Far too extensive to be comprehended by one
person or group,
Too vast for one dogma or doctrine?
Would I shatter at such a thought?
Perish from paradox or puzzle?
Shrink and shrivel before the power?
Would God be diminished if I lived a question
Rather than a statement?
Would I lose my faith
As I discovered the magnitude of Grace?
Oh, for the willingness to explore
To leave my tiny vocabulary at the entrance
And stand before you naked
Stripped of pretenses and rigidity,
Disrobed of self-righteousness and tidy packages,
Stripped of all that holds me at a distance from you
And your world.
Strip me, O God,
Then clothe me in curiosity and courage.

This poem   “Stripped by God” © 2007 by Rev. Cynthia Langston Kirk  is quoted in   “Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity”.   Her blog and web link are here.

I am really interested in Cynthia Langston Kirk.  A poet, story teller, fabric artist and an inspiring Christian minister involved in Piecing Stories Ministries and a retreat leader. (Wow that ticks lots of my boxes.)   I find that poetry is a way of praying and saying deep things from the heart.  It connects my fragmentary intuitions with some tessalated thoughts and makes new patterns from my heart, my prayer and my way of being and breathing life.    I travel through poetry touching the surface and the cracks of things and allow myself to hear new sounds which are resonating in some deeper place within.

I was introduced to her work through the Conference of Spiritual Directors on the occasion of their 30th Anniversary.   As a member I attended the recent national gathering and support their great work and bless them.

You might be interested in exploring the book –

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Heart murmuring

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  Alex Markovich, Photographer

As we listen to our heart we hear our spirit speak.  Our heart’s life is of the spirit.  The murmuring heart is constantly in dialogue speaking to us of things not known by the mind. These very moments often leave a marked impression, but may remain hidden and mysterious.

We are body and spirit. Yet so many of us do not engage in an ongoing relationship with the spirit.  We talk about spiritualities and religions as things out there. We objectify and distance them. Yet the spirit is the life force of the body.

We must learn to be sensitive to the spirit within us, to respond and embrace the realitity of the unique way in which each of us come into being in both body and spirit. This is our wholeness; the union and acceptance of our undivided unity of spirit.

Daily we cultivate this personal relationship with our spirit and come to recognise and relate to the spiritual.   God in all cultures is Spirit.  This Spirit is the dynamic life of creation within all matter.   In this Spirit we live and move and have our being.

Most people have knowingly  had a spiritual experience, or several. These often remain dormant memories whose significance and beauty is forgotten.

I find people have difficulty in expressing the spiritual dimension of their life. The qualities of mystery and the immaterial is somewhat confounding or disarming. Without sharing, understanding and support, our interior experiences and spiritual knowing are not realised in our lives and their very gift of our capacity for transcendence unrecognized.

We may infer from a sensing, an intuition or inspiration, a flow of creativity, a serendipitious happening, that these are but adjuncts to our material world.  At another level, uncertainty may give rise to fears, scepticism and denial of the spiritual life.

Thus we conform to an outer material world without integrating our spirit. We dismiss the core of our being, which is spirit, and deny our capacity to transcend a corporeal existence.  This disconnect leaves a void of personal meaning. Accepting this spirit within, enables us to embrace a greater wholeness of our self and a greater reconciliation of our life within creation.

“Deep within myself, and because I have felt its power, I know that a real and specifically new wind has just breathed over the sould of man.   … To share in a hallowed unity, even for a split second, is enough to enable us to glimpse the future promised to our species, and to find the road that will lead us to it.”

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin’s essay “The Promised Land”

Do not be afraid to acknowledge the Spirit at work in you, gifting you with all good things, guiding you, showing you the way and speaking to your heart truth that sets you free.  As you acknowledge that you too have known this power on you,  you too have felt this mystery move in your life –  continue to let these truths be the foundation of your search for integration of the body and spirit in one with the Holy Spirit.

On the eve of the feast of Pentecost in the Christian calendar, we are encouraged to accept the Holy One in the Spirit.   Accept God’s gift to each one of us as the Spirit.   The Spirit of God is Holy  —   be not afraid  —     Let the Spirit of God come to you and grow in you that you may know how wonderfully you are made.  Let the mystery become a divine wonder… a daily gift of your life  –   a life of spirit -lived personally and openly.

Fan into a flame the truth of your lived experiences of the spirit. Let your life in the Spirit truly be at the heart of what leads you and guides you on your.  You are spiritual.

Our ability to be aware, to be attentive, to see and to hear and to intuit-all come more fully alive when they flow out of a quiet, receptive heart.  And so, our participaton in on-gloing creation is predicated on our commitment ot silence-to cultivating a listening heart and a peaceful spirit.

Judy Cannato, ” Radical Amazement”. Notre Dame, Indiana. 2006.

Our heritage is rich in traditions of spiritual awakening and guides.  Each one is called to come into this fullness of the Life in the Spirit of God. Spiritual wholeness and vitality grows within us, and within healthy spiritual communities. We are made for communion in one spirit.


Image Zen Postcard 7  by Russian Photographer Alex Markovich Photo Art WordPress, used with permission.

 

Perishable earth

David Steindl-Rast walking
Brother David Steindle-Rast OSB 
 GRATEFULNESS AND UNIVERSAL BELONGING

In this ‘Earth Week’ I wanted to link gratefulness to our perishable earth and so I am sharing the wisdom of Brother David Steindle-Rast OSB.

I have been listening to his TED talk of late and his ‘On Being’ interview.  You may be one of the 6 million people who have already heard this talk. If so I hope you still enjoy it as you follow his suggestions of Stop, Listen and Go..

The second talk, with link below,  is from last year’s talk “Faith, Mysticism and Prayer”.

His talk are quite inspiring. He discusses our place in the universe and our immersion in the mystery of all life.    In his words we are ‘enfleshed’ in the universe. He talks about our breath being the spirit of creation within us and within all creation. He focus all things around an attitude and intention to gratefulness which he sees at the heart of our human development and which affirms and connects us in our personal sense of belonging.  has been involved in inter-religious dialogue for decades and I find his talks heartening as we see the bigger picture he paints for us.

I hope you may find time to listen to each of the talks.  The Ted talk is about 13 minutes.

Finally I am including the text of a poem by Rilke which is Brother David refers to as one he finds most poignant.

Rainer Maria Rilke

“we are continually overflowing toward those who preceded us,
toward our origin, and toward those who seemingly come after us. …
It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply,
so painfully and passionately,
that its essence can rise again “invisibly,” inside us.
We are the bees of the invisible.
We wildly collect the honey of the visible,
to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible.”

 

 Faith, mysticism and prayer  is accessed  from Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love you

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It has been with me for a very long time this heart.

It turned up one day in my breakfast bowl.  Just as it is.

And it has stayed. It has remained.

I found I really liked it.  It was quirky, unusual and I didn’t ask for it.

It was gift.  I have rejoiced each morning since.

I wonder if it will loose its shape with all the rough and tumble –

the jostling in and out.

So it helps me daily to be grateful  …

to smile at the quirky and the unexpected.

 

Today may you enjoy the poetry of E.E. Cummings

 A Miscellany Revised

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us

is something valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch.

Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder,

spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

 

Anybody can learn to think, or believe, or know,

but not a single human being can be taught to feel…

the moment you feel, you’re nobody ―  but  yourself  ―

in a world which is doing its best, night and day,

to make you everybody else ―

means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight,

and never stop fighting.

 

Excerpt  Introduction for New Poems E.E. Cummins

We can never be born enough.

We are human beings; for whom birth is a supremely welcome mystery,

the mystery of growing:

which happens only and whenever we are faithful to ourselves.

You and I wear the dangerous looseness of doom and find it becoming.

Life, for eternal us, is ‘now’ and now is much too busy being

a little more than everything to seem anything,

catastrophic included.

 

 

RESURRECTION

copyright Richard Campbell ResurrectionGawguun and Birrigun – RESURRECTION            by  Richard Campbell.

In talking* of his paintings aboriginal artist, RICHARD CAMPBELL,  said:

 “We all have a spiritual connection, we’re all brothers and sisters, with the animals, the trees, rivers and rocks, we all belong to one big God – call it Christ, we call it Birrigun, we are all one in God.”  He said: “… that although you are from different nations of the world, it is important to recognise Christ and the connection between Aboriginal spirituality and bible stories.’

The use of the colour blue denotes the sky where the birds are and the water. The dots and die hands in the painting represent the elders and (the Holy Spirit). The journey symbol in the tree trunk denotes how the elders are buried in the roots of the tree and their spirit rises up through the branches. It also signifies Richard’s journey with the Holy Spirit.

The tree is the Murribi tree, for the Gumbayngirr people, all things happened around dial tree. The dead were buried in the tree and the people believed that their spirits of the elders rise through the tree through the brunches and go out into the Dreaming.

When Birrigun died he went into spirit and then into the Dreaming and after his resurrection through the Murribi tree he appeared to his people as the Southern Cross, that is the journey of Birrigun. in Gumbayngirr his name means the southern cross, he was the champion for the Gumbaingirr people like Jesus is to Christians.

When Birrigun’s mother – Gawguun buried him in a Murribi tree it was scaled with a rock so (hat no aminals could get into the burial site. Every year at the same time she would visit the site to mourn him (this is at Arakoon at South West Rocks. NSW, Australia) but one year the elders noticed she did not come. Instead they saw a brolga dancing around the tomb and they believed it was her spirit. Her tears for her son fall into the coolamon which is the feminine symbol because it is the vessel of life, carrying water, food and babies. It is painted with markings just the way that Richard’s father taught him when he was a boy.

 It is important to let people around the world know that there was a religion of spirituality in Australia before we were colonised by white people.” These paintings “show the way Aboriginal people lived – by the law of the land. You’ve got to look after everything; humans, animals, the environment and the land….”(They) show the message of Christ himself: of good will.”

The description of this artwork and aboriginal story comes directly from Australian Catholic Ministries, Lismore 2008 archive.

Richard Campbell was born into the Dhungutti tribe, near Bowraville on the North Coast of NSW, in 1956.  For more information on the artist visit ACM Sydney website.

*Adapted from extract of editorial produced by Elise Dalley from PROJECTeye interviewing the artist.

These images(commissioned for Sydney World Youth Day, 2008), are the property of Aboriginal Catholic Ministries, Sydney. The copyright of these images is retained by the artist and this article is presented under Creative Commons provisions to respect and affirm the work of the artist and his intentions in a particular context.

 

COMPASSION FATIGUE

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“Compassion fatigue”   – seems to me to be incomprehensible – even reprehensible.  Surely the heart does not stop caring.

How do we come to a place of “compassion fatigue”?  What is it that has shifted from caring in a tangible way, to complacency or even seeming powerless?

We become desensitized to that which would make our heart mourn or move us with compassion.  As I pondered  – I understood from a giant billboard SELF STORAGE.

As as a human rights worker, I was confronted by the term “compassion fatigue” from supporters who no longer wanted to see images of victims of human rights abuse.  The rawness of the constant suffering had become too difficult to bear.

I am not talking here of exhaustion. I understand we cannot stay in the front line of caring without support, care and respite. There is a time and a season for us.

I am talking of a turning point – a time at which we harden our hearts and deny our suffering world.  We deny our own capacity to suffer with our selves and others.  We deny extending ourselves to be compassionate to one another.

When people talk of agencies “they no longer trust” or when working with youth in desperate life situations – I am “warned” not to give too much.   Yesterday  I heard people decrying those who were speaking compassionately on behalf of the refugees.

Do we decry the voice of the poor?

Can we have ever had enough compassion?  How do we grow in mercy and compassion?

As Isaiah says let our hearts be broken…

that we may  weep with those who are weeping.

Rilke’s words talk of our God – a God of mercy and compassion -suffering with us today.

You are the poor one, you the destitute.

You are the stone that has no resting place.
You are the diseased one
whom we fear to touch.
Only the wind is yours.
You are poor like the spring rain
that gently caresses the city;
like wishes muttered in a prison cell, without a world to hold them;
and like the invalid, turning in his bed to ease the pain.
Like flowers along the track, shuddering
as the train roars by, and like the hand
that covers our face when we cry – that poor.
Yours is the suffering of birds on freezing nights,
of dogs who go hungry for days.
Yours the long sad waiting of animals
who are locked up and forgotten.
You are the beggar who averts his face,
the homeless person who has given up asking;
you howl in the storm.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke


from  “ The Book of Poverty and Death, III,18″   
Translated by Anita Barrows and Joana Macy, Riverhead Press, 1996 p.141

Mystery

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YOUR POWER SOURCE

Knowingly or unknowingly, we live a faith filled life.

The plumb line cannot measure the depths of mystery in which we exist.

As children and in some cultures  – mystery, the unseen and the life of spirit are the context of our experience.  Reality is, we are each  part of something beyond ourselves and our comprehension.  We swim in the unknown.

“The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore, but to be in the lake. To luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out; it is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery. “

Quote from the character John Keats in the movie "Bright Star". 

This quote speaks to me of our choices in our attitudes particularly to our spiritual life. Do we want to grab and capture everything, name it, define it and somehow be in control of it?  Is our approach to mystery one of conquest as we seek to taste the mystery ?

There is a wry paradox in trying to explain or detail the eternal ever present mystery. It seems so deficient that we should trade the magnitude of the wonder of the unknowable for a set answers of history, science or doctrine.

Rarefied are the species who wait expectantly on faith and providence –  or enter  the realms of the intangible.  Yet countless scientiests, spiritual wayfarers, contemplatitives and creatives attest to the reality and fullness of a spirit led life.

The mind is but a visitor;
it thinks us out of our world.

Each mind fabricates itself.
We sense it limits,  for we have made them.
And just when we would flee them, you come
and make of yourself an offering.

I don’t want to think a place for you.
Speak to me from everywhere.
Your Gospel can be comprehended
without looking for its source.

When I go toward you
it is with my whole life.

Extract from Rainer Maria Rilke – “Love poems to God”

Be still and know that I am God.

Gradually we become more present and receptive to our God -the One who cannot be named or contained.

To be open to God is to be open to the Mystery of our being, beyond limits.


 

FURTHER READING:   I recommend to you today Dylan Raines who is about to commence a walk for water in 3 days.   …    He has a  most interesting blog on using meditation to make yourself happy.

Extract from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours:Love Poems to God    Translated by Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy.