Thanks. Giving.

Thanksgiving.

Thanks.  Giving.

I turn and give thanks to God for all that is and is to come.  I am thankful to God for our divine friendship, my love grows deeper for God moment by moment, closer to Home.

I give thanks.  Then I live my thanks by giving my life away in serving and love.

I am thankful for the quiet, hidden prayers that have been offered; for the angels who inhabit my world; for the 55 pound divine fur ball named Juno who reminds me everyday what grace and unconditional love truly are.  I am thankful I have breath and life to say “thank You!”

I am grateful for the mosaic that is my life: joy and sadness, fullness and emptiness, sickness and healing.

I am grateful and thankful for the 120 subscribers who have humbled me by signing up and even reading one tiny word I write, may you be Blessed, may you be Blessings.  May my words, in some small way, lead you deeper into the God Who passionately loves you, longs for you and embraces you as the divine children you are.

I am grateful for all the people in recovery who challenge me daily and keep me clean and sober; those who remind me of God – in blue jeans, grace in t-shirts, and divine love in brutal transparency.

I am reminded of the wise Meister Eckhart quote, that I try and live out daily, sometimes feebly, sometimes fully: “If the only prayer you ever utter is ‘thank You’ that would suffice.”

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Being True to Ourselves

M.C. Richards has been one of the most influential people in my life I have never actually met in person. Her poetry, prose, pottery and person-hood are exquisite examples of Divine Love taking place in flesh and blood.

I have been feeling spiritually ‘beat up’ the last few weeks, my hunger and pining for God being off the hook.  Yet, my sense of God is punctuated more by Absence then Presence.  I am learning again the painful lesson that spiritual maturity is based more on acknowledging and living out truths as acts of will rather than as reactions based on shape-shifting emotions.  So, it does not matter that I do not ‘feel’ God.  I know the truth: God is faithfully and eternally Present to me, since God dwells within me and therefore cannot deny his own Being and Presence therein.

That being said, I kick and scream during spiritual growth spurts, throwing tantrums on the ground, refusing to see the necessity of growing up spiritually.  Then I am reminded that growing up spiritually takes deep courage, rooted faith, child-like trust, and the willingness to go through rather than around the fear.  I am learning albeit slowly that courage comes after not before the act.  

So here is some truth and perspective from the deep wells of M.C. Richards:

It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who we are. We face surprises. And disappointments. The crucial fact is that we are different from anybody we know and admire…. It takes all one’s courage to be the person one is, fulfilling one’s odd and unique possibilities.

Source:

“Boundaries” (Lynn Ungar)

The universe does not
revolve around you.
The stars and planets spinning
through the ballroom of space
dance with one another
quite outside of your small life.
You cannot hold gravity
or seasons; even air and water
inevitably evade your grasp.
Why not, then, let go?

You could move through time
like a shark through water,
neither restless or ceasing,
absorbed in and absorbing
the native element.  Why pretend you can do otherwise?
The world comes in at every pore,
mixes in your blood before
breath releases you into
the world again. Did you think
the fragile boundary of your skin
could build a wall?

Listen. Every molecule is humming
its particular pitch.
Of course you are a symphony.
Whose tune do you think
the planets are singing
as they dance?

Musings on Listening

Recently, I have been ‘reviewing’ my history regarding my experience of spirituality and the practice of spiritual disciplines as well as the evolution and transformation of it throughout the last quarter of a century.  I have grown from a black and white (rigid) understanding and interpretation of what it means to be led by the Spirit towards a more tolerant, compassionate experience and view.

In short, I have become less arrogant that my way is the right way, much less even “a” single way being the ‘right’ way.  I have come to know and see that the Spirit is like the Wind indeed – blowing wherever the skies and landscape take it.  Who am I to judge the Spirit’s leading and intention in a persons’ life?  I am learning that God can work in any way God sees fit, and can obviously do so without any input from this particular ragamuffin.

I am learning again one of the indispensable foundations of spirituality (and spiritual growth) is listening: listening to God, to our hearts, our fears, our pain, our joys, and especially to others.  Spirituality (and spiritual growth) can and do occur in solitude, but for them to flourish deeply they must grow in relation to another – in community.  And I am fast learning one steadfast truth: all community begins with listening.  It is an initial listening to a call from the Other Who then leads us to others and in listening to them we are led to ourselves, and it is vital to listen to each one clearly because at the Center they are all saying the same thing: “we are loved and we are one.”

It is in the mutuality that grows from listening that the deepest spiritual significance occurs, namely the mutuality between listening and telling; knowing someone will listen without judgment and knowing that someone can tell their story knowing it will be heard.  That is one of the greatest powers of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous – story telling, listening, a shared struggle and a shared healing experience.

Those of us who are wrestling with spiritual dilemmas and demons, creeping and crawling ever so slowly towards awakenings, do not necessarily need answers but ‘presence’ – the permission to confront the dilemma, struggle with it out loud knowing we will be heard, and finding solace in the ‘defeat’ of terminal uniqueness (the belief that we are so different that we are alone in a chaotic, random universe).

Listening begins and deepens our spiritual experiences.  Listening affords us the space and silence needed to empty out our pain through storytelling and mutuality.   Listening is where we find not only answers but maybe more importantly the Presence Whom is the Source of all our longings.

“You Alone” (Thomas Merton)

Lord God,

Give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens.

Possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love.

Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love not for the sake of merit, not for the sake of perfection, not for the sake of virtue, not for the sake of sanctity, but for You alone.

 

Source:

Penetrating

“Suppose one has found completeness in his true vocation. Now everything is in unity, in order, at peace. Now work no longer interferes with prayer or prayer with work. Now contemplation no longer needs to be a special “state” that removes one from the ordinary things going on around him, for God penetrates all.”

Thomas Merton

“…For God penetrates all.”  That sentiment alone can cause the monumental shifts needed to draw us closer to each other, to the earth, the poor, the entire created order.  Knowing this truth is the beginning of the Revolution.

God penetrates all.  Penetrate: to pierce, infiltrate, break through, break in, enter, or breach – just a few of the words listed as synonyms for ‘penetrate.’

God pierces us, indeed with a love so pure it hurts.  It hurt him when he hung on a tree for the healing of us all.

God infiltrates me, breaks me in order to break through.  If I lock the door of my heart and I refuse to answer the divine knock at the door, God breaks in through the window panes of my soul.

God breaches my boundaries, my comfort zones, my sore spots, my darker places no one knows or sees.  God does indeed penetrate all…like sultry, seductive eyes yet burning purer than the finest metal.  God permeates every nook and cranny, every pore, every fiber of being. God Is…Present in all things, in all ways, all that exists bears in some way the Imago Dei, the iconographic presence of the Holy One.

Nothing I do or do not do will ever limit God’s presence, which is the very essence of the word grace.  Grace is the experiential knowledge of God’s presence and penetration of all of life; and knowing this, the line between the holy and the profane, the sacred and sacrilege, work and prayer, dissolves away.

May God penetrate us all with such grace.

On Love…

My writing is a mere reflection of where I am in my spiritual life.  I am struggling hard with God.  I often quote the edgy Meister Eckhart quote to reflect where I am as well, “I pray God to rid me of God.”  I must find God.  I must be found by God or my soul will dry up.  I am a thirsting deer pining for the waters of life.

I am a creature of habit, drawn more to my darker leanings when God seems far away.  God becomes an idol of conditionality when I am in this space; God becomes a schizophrenic.  But then the tug pulls from within, reminding me that God is greater than my feelings, greater than my mind, far beyond any conceptualization I can concoct.  It is then that I am reminded of the greatest truth:

God.  Is.  Love.

Plain and simple.  And it really is plain and simple and profound and unutterable.  It is so simple children get it.  It is so simple adults are threatened by it so much so we create dogma, doctrines, denominations and diatribes to control the very essence and definition of God’s love.  But God’s love is and will forever be just that – Love.

We can do as we wish to this sacred Fire called Love.  We can qualify it.  We can quantify it.  We can try and control it through the above mentioned ways. We can try and block it.  We can try and commodify it.  But God’s love is, well, uncontrollable, indescribable and unconditional.  And that scares the bejesus out of us.

We humans are so afraid of the utter brilliance and intensity of divine Love that we have to both qualify it and then quantify it.  We cannot truly believe God’s love is unconditional, as in absolutely unconditional, that we need to establish temporal conditions to that which is Unconditional.

What would happen if all of us who say we ‘love God’ simplified our lives and missions towards one direction – Love – and sought only to give and receive divine love freely without discretion? 

What if all other dogma, doctrine and denomination burnt away as the dross that it is, and only God’s unconditional love reigned supreme in every being created by this Loving God?

What would happen?

Now that is one revolution I want to see and be a part.

If the construct of my life, my beliefs, my mission and motive grasp deeply that Divine Love is not a doctrine, or a sect, a rule or a religion then the revolution has begun.  And the revolution starts, ends and is sustained by God so there is nothing to lose and surrender is the key.  The revolution states that God’s love is a Reality, a Being, a very Presence pure and undefiled in its natural (divine) state.

But if the truth be told, I cannot handle that Truth, so I have to place conditions on Divine Love, on God and Jesus.  I have to establish codes for this love because I am afraid of what will happen to me, my world and my entire being if this Love actually came and consumed everything.

I often wonder what exactly would happen if we could understand Teilhard de Chardin’s urging to discover Divine Love and thereby ‘rediscover’ Fire again and light up the world.

I am being held by the simple truth that Divine Love is just that, divine, and no human language or doctrine or dogma should ever try and tame such perfect wildness, such holy fire, as the love of God.