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.

 

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.

 

 

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

Well of wisdom

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4th Week Lent
Today’s Scriptures: Jer 11:18-20 Jn 7:40-52

In the philosophy of the poet – love  ushers forth from a well of wisdom.  From the contemplative heart we receive lived wisdom as from the sage.

We listen to our journey as it has been lived through their lives. Their truths are our truths – in shadows and in light.  They speak of what might have been; the seen and the unseen. They birth in us new ways of saying, of being, of naming and of seeing.

David Whyte  explores the Poetry of Compassion in the recording below.  In it he talks of the inner journey, and the search to find your own way. He explores our capacity to embrace all of self, including our darker side and grief. He brings gentle  connections to,   as he says, “restore our personal innocence” and be compassionate with ourselves.

By recitation of poetic works from Mary Oliver and Pablo Neruda, and his own poem – “The Well of Grief” – he evokes and opens for us a deep relationship to the words and imagery of the inner journey.

This recording is 37 min.duration, but may be stopped at short intervals between various poems.  I highly recommend the full recording on the site below.

However, you may choose to listen in intervals of five minutes or so.

David Whyte   visiting Australia  April 24 – May 3  http://www.davidwhyte.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.


 

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