You and I

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4th Week Lent
Today’s Readings: Is 49:8-15   Jn 5:17-30

‘I require a You to become.
In becoming I,
I say You.
All actual life is encounter.’

‘The Thou encounters me by grace — it cannot be found by seeking. But that I speak the basic word to it is a deed of my whole being, is my essential deed.’

P O E T        W R I T E R      T H E O L O G I A N       S C H O L A R
P H I L O S O P H E R

MARTIN   BUBER

I wish to introduce new footholds  for the spiritual journey.  Whilst we may feel  the spiritual  defies our attempts  to express our inner sensing, or grasp the ineffable; Martin Buber’s life works exhort us to embrace our relationship with the spirit, as the essence of the journey.

“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.”

His many works give us a new dialogue of  inclusive relationship between  human and other …  Most particularly he speaks of the sacred relationship of “I and Thou”.

“Spirit is not in the I but between I and You. It is not like the blood that circulates in you but like the air in which you breathe. Man lives in the spirit when he is able to respond to his You. He is able to do that when he enters into this relation with his whole being. It is solely by virtue of his power to relate that man is able to live in the spirit.”

Being consciously engaged with our spiritual life centres us in our full humanity.

Extract from:

 “Power and Love” by Martin Buber

‘Every morning
I shall concern myself anew about the boundary
Between the love-deed-Yes, and the power-deed-No
And pressing forward honour reality.

We cannot avoid
Using power,
Cannot escape the compulsion
To afflict the world,
So let us, cautious in diction
And might in contradiction,
Love powerfully.’

 

‘As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience.’

These quotes by Martin Buber were retrieved on 8.3.2016 from https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/539106-ich-und-du  
http://www.azquotes.com/author/2101https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/I_and_Thou

ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS REFERENCED ARE:
" I & Thou" by Martin Buber Walter Kaufmann translator) NY: Charles Scribner 1970
"Martin Buber : An Intimate Portrait" by Aubrey Hodes, Viking Press 1971

Lacrimarum valle

Week 4 Lent
Today’s Scripture: Sam 15:13 -114, 30; 16:5-13,  Mk 51-20

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“Let your hearts be broken,
not your garments torn”.
                                                               
Joel 2:13

If you be drawn to a quiet place of hidden truths and reflective shadows, be not afraid.

“Receive the storm that repentence brings.  Let the holy winds toss you to and fro.

You will be awakened to new depths as you wrestle with the life forces within and what seems like violence at first will lead you gently into the eye of God where all is calm and quiet like the eye of a hurricane.”

Quote from: “A Tree full of Angels: Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary” by Macrina Wiederkehr. OSB.

“Sacrifice to God is a broken spirit,

A humbled contrite heart you will not spurn.”     Ps 51:17

For you shall find the inner truth of who you are to God and who God is to you.

“O God help me to believe the truth about myself – no matter how beautiful it is!”


Quote from: “Seasons of the Heart” by Macrina Wiederkehr. OSB. (Order of St. Benedict) Religious, author, poet, spiritual director.

Highly recommended further reading:  http://macrinawiederkehr.com/    and details of her books and articles. Her lenten blog is titled: “To what are you nailed?”


** lacrimarum valle – latin – Vale of Tears

Quotes obtained from http://www.notable-quotes.com

Winnowed thoughts

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Week 4 Lent  Today’s Readings:  Josh 5:9-12   1 Cor 5:17-21   Lk 15:1-3, 11-32

We are all called to be winnowers… to cast aloft our dreams and thoughts, to winnow with the Spirit.  Discernment, like winnowing, is a gift which enables us to sift the motives of our heart; to raise up our inner most thoughts and find the wisdom of our way.

Ernest Larkin helps us appreciate it.  He says:

“Discernment has two focuses: process and problem.

It is a process insofar as it is progressive awareness of the movements of the spirits in our counsciousness. …

The “spirits” are thoughts, desires, and affective moods, which are the telltale signs of the Holy Spirit or opposing influences. …

Discernment is mindfulness, recollection, centredness. It is being aware of what is going on spiritually.”

In this season of Lent, in the Christian tradition, we are called to look inward and examine our hearts and practices, in the light of God’s word.  It is a particular time in which we turn our  attention to the questions of our heart and let ourselves explores some shadows.

In the silence of our hearts we may let some of the bigger questions arise …  What is the best I can do at this time?     

Can I explore more deeply choices available to me and be open to new directions or possibilities?

Larkin continues in a very practical way, noting process and problem work together:

“Discernment as problem solving is interpreting the spirits in order to determine God’s will.  Where are these feelings and sentiments tending?

Are they moving the person toward or away from God?

What behaviour and choices are they suggesting?

Discernment is concerned … with the trajectory or orientation. Where are  they pointing?

We are called to live beyond rote rules and in accord with God’s particular will for us.

God’s project for me is that I become the unique person I was created to be.   Discernment is the tool for the process.”   *

It takes courage and support to look at our shadows, to explore our choices and to choose growth.  A spiritual director or Christian companion is invaluable in being there for you to carry your thoughts and dreams through the process of discernment.

Quoted extracts  from “What to Know about Discernment” by Ernest E. Larkin. O. Carm

Published in Review for Religious, 2001. pp.162-3.  Published Society of Jesus St. Louis. Missouri. US Central and Sth Province.  Archives can be accessed . through http://cdm.slu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/rfr/id/559


 

Recommended Reading: “Silent Presence”, Ernest Larkin.  Dimension Books. N Jersey. 2000.


 

Awesome One

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Week 3 Lent Today’s Scriptures Hosea 14:2-10 Mark 12:28-34

I am praying again, Awesome One.

You hear me again, as words

from the depths of me

rush toward you in the wind.

I yearn to be held

in the great hands of your heart”.

 


 

Extract from  “The Book of Hours: Love poems to God” by  Rainer Maria Rilke*

One of my other favourite poems from Rilke is:

“Go to the limits of your longing”.  For recitation click red arrow.

 

To view all the words and other poems please go to:  

http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/Poets/R/RilkeRainerM/Iamprayingag/index.html

 

Recommended Reading:

  “In the Company of Rilke:

Why a 20th-century visionary poet speaks so eloquently to 21st century readers yearning for inwardness, beauty & spiritual connection.”

by Stephanie Dowrick,  Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest. NSW.  2009

“Awesome God” can be found in Rilke’s “Book of Hours” translated by Joanna Macy, Author Anita Barrows.  Riverhead Books, Penguin. NY. 1996.*

Re-cover dis-cover

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Week 3 Lent Today’s readings: Jer 7:23-28 Luke 11:14-23

Why do we wish to recover?  What is it that we prize so dearly about a speedy recovery or a full recovery?  Most of all it seems we are in haste to re – cover our vulnerability, perhaps our fragility; our weakened self.

No real sense of self is recovered speedily. I  recall times when decimation visited me leaving but a shell.    A  pervasive numbness disengages the notions of self and any talk of recovery seems a nonsense.  For from the inside there is no sense.

One does not recover oneself.   We in fact discover ourselves.  We come to experience our poverty of spirit.  We have been exposed, revealed and found to be frail and human.  A speedy and full recovery…is but a hollow platitude.

Maybe fear, shame or humiliation shadow us in this parlous state accompanied by endless questions without answers.  Surely as life has changed in whatever way – we don’t recover.  We cannot go back to recover.   Recovery is in discovery.  It is in the now that we can compassionately discover  our deeper self, our true values and true friends.

“… it is often in useless, unpretentious, humble presence to each that we feel consolation and comfort. Simply being with someone is difficult because it asks of that we share in the other’s vulnerability, enter with him/her into the experience of weakness and powerlessness, become part of uncertainly, and give up control and self-determination.

And still when this happens, new strength and new hope is being born.”

Recovery has meaning when compassion shelters us  and we slowly discover a new integrity, gentleness and humility emanating from within.

Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life”  by  Henri Nouwen, Donald P McNeill, Douglas A Morrison, 1982. Dartman Longman Todd.  p.12

 

 

Inner sense

Week 3 Lent Today’s Readings: Deut 4:1,5-9 Matt 5:17-19

The-WoesW

Innocence

in a sense

is like incense      ….   innocence…  

it rises up and offers something of its very being

to inner sense

innocence   –   seemingly elusive   yet

my inner sense

in a sense  –  it touches me  …  I behold it,

in a sense – I perceive its vapour,

I am in sense  arising  inner sense

an incense

to my being in innocence.

I wrote this verse as the word ‘innocence’ invited me this morning to ‘feel out’ its dimensions within me. In rising awareness of the work of Michael Leunig – artist, poet, philospher and officially declared Australian Living Treasure in 1999,   I sought out an image and had NO knowledge of what follows.  All within me blossomed as I discovered a gem -an extract follows from:

 “Ideas of Spirituality, Art and Innocence”  by Michael Leunig*:

“Why do I choose to put together this wonderful holy trinity of spirituality, art and innocence?  … The simple truth is that I believe these things are treasures that matter hugely to the health of the individual and society…

I have come to understand my spirituality as an ongoing internal lyrical state of consciousness, semi-consciousness and unconsciousness in which I find meaning, comfort, refuge, inspiration, mystery and strength. …

With spirit, one is able to have and hold many feelings, and live a felt life. The spirit supports and negotiates between our feelings, instincts and intuitions …

I cannot help but think that a rich and confident spiritual life is a form of genius.  …

The spirit lies at the heart of our character and personality; our individual, divine self, which is one of the greatest treasures we will ever have access to. …

Any thoughts of spirituality lead me quite naturally to the idea of art because in my view, and in my experience, art is an aspect or an expression of our individual spiritual reality.

I make the point that mystery is not confusion, rather it is an enchantment of the imagination and spirit. Indeed art is a spiritual project.  …

In essence, spirituality and art are interwoven in their raw searching, in their expression, in their courageous unknowing, in their joy and darkness and in their radiant innocent strength which finds its way into the human heart. …

A direct link to the wondrous, innocent experiences of childhood might, in mature age, be called mature innocence.  … I have found some of my most meaningful, useful and joyous work there. It is my studio within my studio. We might also understand mature innocence as mindfulness.”

I encourage you to visit the site for his full essay given as keynote presentation at 10th Dialogue Australasia Network Conference, 11 April 2015.  http://www.leunig.com.au/ideas/spirituality-art-innocence?showall=1&limitstart=   Words and image provided with gracious courtesy of Michael Leunig.

A Healthy God

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Week 3 Lent     Today’s Scriptures: Kings 5:1-15   Luke 4:24-30

Healthy People in a Healthy Relationship with a Healthy God

Offerings for consideration from a talk by Retired Catholic Bishop Geoffrey Robinson.

“There is only one God, but an endless variety of human misunderstandings of God. Unable to grasp the infinite God, we each create a lesser God in our minds and worship this.

In particular, we all have within us profound fears and longings, with the fears creating ideas of an angry god, and the longings ideas of a loving god. Our ideas of God will always be inadequate, but can at least be healthy, that is, enable us to grow.

To achieve this health, we must move:

from a god we can possess and dispense to others

         to a God of infinite surprise;

from an elderly male god

         to a God who is above all our limitations;

from a religion in which beliefs, duties and worship hold first place

        to a religion in which a love relationship with God holds first place;

from an angry god, not to a god of soft love, but

         to a God who, out of love is never afraid to challenge us to grow;

from divisions between sacred and profane

         to the goodness of all creation;

from a god  whose glory is to be found in our obedience

         to a religion in which we must constantly abuse ourselves before God to a religion in which self-denial and self-love work together to help us become “fully alive”;

from a world without meaning

         to a world in which our sense of meaning comes from the sum total of all the loves of our lives;

from a commercial relationship with a god whose rewards can be earned by doing right things

         to a love relationship with a God who is pure gift;

from a relationship in which we determine exactly what part God shall be allowed in our lives

         to a love relationship of total giving;

from a god who demands that we bridge the gap between us

         to a God who always takes the first step and comes to us;

from prayer which consists solely in words

         to a prayer in which our whole lives seek to express our desire for God;

from a god about whom we use many words

   to a God whose greatness and mystery reduce us to silent wonder.”


Talk given at Faith Formators Colloquium, Mittagong, N.S.W. Nov. 2006.

We are not converted

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Week 2 Lent  Today’s Scriptures  Mic 7:14-15, 18-20   Lk 15:1-3,11-32

 

We  are  not converted

Only once in our lives

But  many times  and

This endless series of

Large and small

Conversions,

Inner revolutions,

Leads to our

Transformation 

In Christ

But while we may have

The generosity to

Undergo one or two

Such upheavals, we

Cannot face the necessity

Of further and greater

Rendings of our inner-self,

Without which we

Cannot  finally 

Become free!

 

Thomas Merton. “Life & Holiness”
Herder & Herder, NY:1963. p.159

 

Energy of Faith

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Week 2 Lent
Today’s Readings: Gen 37:3-4,12-13,17-28 Matt 21:33-43,45-46

It is an interesting reality – our personal energy.   In some ways  I have often had high energy… it is a clear gift.  I see others do not have it in the same way it comes to me.   But it is there in each of us.  It is the power with which we each embrace life and live it.

Our energy for life is in some way tied particularly to our faith and values.  It is a zeal for life itself and a strength of conviction allied to a sense of meaning and purpose.  In times when I had become disillusioned or lost my way, my energy also waned until I found a new connection to meaning within myself.

There seems a correlation between the amount I give of myself in circumstances and the personal sense I have of it being  in accord with my values.  It is a faith that I am in the right place, or the right work or right standing with others….it is an outworking of my core beliefs about myself, my path and place at the time.

Faith in the rightness of things  generates the energy that things are worth doing and enables me to go the extra mile when needed.  Our commitment to our core beliefs, whether specifically religious or not, is lived out in small steps daily.  We step out incrementally growing in our faith and test its limits.

Two Insights from Thich Nhat Hanh, Author and Buddist monk.
Taken from:
“Taming the Tiger Within: Meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions.”

“Faith is the outcome of your life.   As faith continues to grow, you continue to get the energy, because faith is also an energy like love.  If we look deeply into the nature of our love, we will also see our faith.  When we have faith in us, we are no longer afraid of anything.”

and

“When you have faith, you have a lot of energy.  When you believe in something really good, true, and beautiful, you are very alive.”


Thich Nhat Hanh -“Taming the Tiger Within: Meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions.”p239, 241. Riverhead Books, Penguin Publ. NY. 2004.

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….