“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?”
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.
God is always there for us … waiting for our ………………..
(Your chance here to put in an answer …. what comes to your mind?)
Over these last few weeks of Lent, the children have been singing as part of our liturgy. I always find it uplifting particularly as their songs are so fresh and new to me.
However, twice lately I have been jarred by the words of a song they sing… and it left me thinking quite seriously…. Each time I noticed the disturbing affect on me as I read the words and heard them sing:
“God is always there for us…waiting for our crime”.
Do you believe that? I certainly don’t… that was the source of my concern. What sort of a version of God do we have? Worth thinking about further I pondered. Who is your God ? – Do we believe in a God of Mercy and Compassion? After deliberating over the two occasions I raised it with the co-ordinator who agreed to check the typing. I found the unofficial website with lyrics had this version also.
Still perplexed, I contacted the songwriter who confirmed indeed the words are ” waiting for our CRY!”
Now the merciful God whom I knew I could turn to has appeared in the song, not the God of judgement and condemnation.
It may be simple, yet so many times little typos like this can be either amusing or misleading. In this case I am glad to have the children, and the child in me, know that God is waiting for our cries.
May it be in this season of Lent we can keep examining our images of God and discover the truth and depth of Divine Mercy.
The Lord is kind and merciful … Psalm 102: vs. 1, 4
These words struck me today… Whether we are an artist, a writer or a contemplative… these words call us to embrace a paradox of the spiritual journey. It is often when we are empty that the Spirit becomes most present to us. This may become more evident in times of desolation, times of contemplation, or times of retreat or abstinence.
In preparation for spiritual discernment these words echo within us…to lay down our ways and wait upon the Spirit. Discernment is the heart of all inner seeking. It is only accomplished with preparation through calming the swells of the worldly desires and letting the waves of our discontent abate, that we may then journey to the inner.
In my art practice, I find it is when waiting in deep stillness and seeking in darkness; seemingly arid of the creative spirit, that I can recognize the dawn of inspiration and be prompted in new directions. … I love the word “inspiration”…. being infilled with the Spirit…and the joy which comes with the “inspiration”. It is truly filling when one is inspired.
It is in the unknowing that we come to know. It is in the emptiness that we are filled. But most importantly, I think it is because I knew I was empty or barren, that I also have learnt to discern the Spirit of God within.
As we are preparing for Lent, this message seems to have a particular resonance for the spiritual journey just now. Often Lent is associated with “giving up things”. But I think of it more as laying them down and letting them go so I can make space in my life. Not so much emptiness, but spaciousness. The journey of the Spirit is to declutter in today’s jargon and trust that we will come to embrace the unknown ahead.
“And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff.” Mk 6:8
I ponder and listen to what this word is saying to me and what extra baggage can I jettison, to go forward, knowing from past experiences, I have been given, and will be given all I need.
In all discernment we question what do I really want and what do I need.
In spiritual discernment as a Christian, we ask what is God’s will for me? I let questions come forward and wait on gentle promptings.
Then starts a process of discerning what comes to me, what I hear in my heart …. , remembering I am always a follower; being led I learn to listen and discern what is drawing me closer to my true self.
What today do I need to equip me for the journey?
What do I stand in need of to be more present, loving, true, peaceful …
What do I really need today – to be readied for the encounter with mystery?
Today’s Scriptures: 1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12 and Mk 6:7-13
Our next step –
“Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
“As your word unfolds it gives light, and even the simple understand”
*Psalm 119 vs. 105, 130
The Word is our companion and our daily bread. As I let the Word of God talk to me, I find I am nourished and guided along my path. So it is for all disciples following the way. This is where the heart of the relationship in spiritual direction lies. The spiritual director is always and only the Holy Spirit.
To seek spiritual direction, is to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is the one constant in gaining spiritual direction – ever seeking and finding the voice of God speaking to us. Of course like Mary, we may ask How? How do we hear the voice? …. How do we discern the voice ? ….
For me the next step is to sit quietly with the Word of God. Whether you choose the readings of the day, whether it be a verse that has resonated in your heart recently, whether it be the words spoken or sung…
However the Word of God has touched you…be open to abiding with a verse, a line or a short text. It is from such encounters that we are fed. This becomes the source of our discernment, contemplation and musings. Our experience is at the heart of our ongoing dialogue; conversing with our God, and the substance of our personal spiritual direction.
I enjoy reading Psalm 119 in which the writer extols and delights in the Word of God as the guide and guardian of the path. Various versions of the text engage me and speak to my heart. The Message Bible** translates the Psalm in contemporary language and opens as follows:
“You’re blessed when you stay on course,
walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
doing your best to find him …. vs. 1 -2
Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life;
not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road.
Open my eyes so I can see what you show me
of your miracle-wonders.
I am a stranger in these parts;
give me clear directions.” … vs. 17 – 20
Scripture from * THE NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE, 1990. Darton, Longman, Todd. London ** THE MESSAGE. 2002. Used by permission Navpress Publishing Group.