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
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
toa 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.
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
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
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:
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.
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….
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.
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.
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”.