Inner sense

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

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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.

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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.

Feral Thoughts

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Week 2 Lent Today’s Scriptures: Isa 1:10,16-20 Matt:23;1-12

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.

Prevent Truth Decay

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Lent Wk 1    Todays’s Scriptures  Esth 4:17  Matt 7:7-12

Gee…some signs of our times are good.

The wit  and poignancy of this one made it memorable for me.

We seem to hear so many versions of truth these days that we are no longer sure of our own version.  Although we grow in knowledge of our values and truths, in part we still respond to scripts given to us by parents, friends  or doctrine.

Spiritual Direction assists us to  become more sensitive to our feelings and reflect on our emotional responses. We find the things of importance, truth and meaning for ourselves.

As we journey inward and speak our truths, we begin to belong to ourselves in a fresh way.

At the heart of traditional stories, in scripture and in many indigenous cultures, is the sacredness of the land as the place of unique belonging and well-being.

Often in the spiritual journey people relate their experiences to that of homecoming to a place of belonging.  They take possession of their inner landscape from which they draw forth their meaning and identity.

“Prevent Truth Decay”    – trust and protect the sacred within.  –


A reflection from Scripture:  Jn 8:31-32 –

“If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples,

you will come to know the truth and the truth will set you free.

Awareness

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First Week of Lent     Today’s Readings: Is 55:10-11   Mt 6:7-15

It seems strange that the best way of knowing ourself is through our failings.  Accepting our faults with a compassionate and true heart enables us to come into a place of inner peace and freedom.

In  loss, grief or inner distress. .. we grope in pain to embrace the hidden self  – fallible and frail.  We meet our limits and our reality  … in a way – our ‘true self’.

Our ‘true self’ is not out there floating on the clouds in some ideal person, but grounded, vulnerable and  wounded.

The radical part of this, for me,  is that in ‘knowing’ my own weakness I have also come into a ‘knowing’ of my God and grown in compassion for others. This is not new for those who have been through the valleys, but it is renewing and always a revelation.

In times of travail, as I cried out “If you are real God, show yourself .. come,”  – my mustard seed of faith,  carried in the smallest cry, reached the highest heavens.   Grace came and answered my deepest needs.  

I did not think  my deepest need was to be found in relationship with God. But this became the centre of a pivotal knowing by experience.  This was my first step into a life of faith…to call, wait and hope. This is the faith life -to live in the unknowing waiting expectantly for the light.

The Spirit meets us in our powerlessness and we are joined to a new Truth – our solace and our strength is in God alone.   All else is delusion or illusion of our mind attempting to reinterpret our deep experience.

Becoming aware of our inner truth is an ongoing process of constantly turning back and discovering God and self in relationship.

Lent is a season of grace and compassion.  It is a time in which we set aside judgement and condemnation of self and others and turn inward to find new love and realise our hopes.

Over time we get in touch with our frailty and fault lines and the Spirit leads us with a humble contrite heart to repentance, forgiveness, healing and renewed life.

We ‘Trust in the slow works of God’ ∗ and in the unfolding mystery of our lives.   The  Poetry and Prayer Pages may be helpful to your quiet reflections and include a work from ∗Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.