Sunday, September 23, 2018

trust your aloneness

Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away... and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast.... be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust.... and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it. 

- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

HT: John Predmore SJ, Ignatian Spirituality

Friday, September 21, 2018

the moan is the birthing sound

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery Alabama
The air must have been thick with fear and prayer as the slaving ships pulled out of GorĂ©e and other West African ports laden with human cargo. Devotees of Vodun, the river gods, [YHWH], Allah, Oludumare—to name just a few—lay together (tightly or loosely packed) in an involuntary rebirthing cocoon. It was a community of sorts, yet each person lay in their own chrysalis of human waste and anxiety. More often than not, these Africans were strangers to each other by virtue of language, culture, and tribe. Although the names of their deities differed, they shared a common belief in the seen and unseen. The journey was a rite of passage of sorts that stripped captives of their personal control over the situation and forced them to turn to the spirit realm for relief and guidance.
. . . The word contemplation must press beyond the constraints of religious expectations to reach the potential for spiritual centering in the midst of danger. Centering moments accessed in safety are an expected luxury in our era. During slavery, however, crisis contemplation became a refuge, a wellspring of discernment in a suddenly disordered life space, and a geo-spiritual anvil for forging a new identity. This definition of contemplation is dynamic and situational. . . .
As unlikely as it may seem, the contemplative moment can be found at the very center of such ontological crises . . . during the Middle Passage in the holds of slave ships . . . auction blocks . . . and the . . . hush arbors [where slaves worshipped in secret]. Each event is experienced by individuals stunned into multiple realities by shock, journey, and displacement. . . . In the words of Howard Thurman, “when all hope for release in the world seems unrealistic and groundless, the heart turns to a way of escape beyond the present order.” [1] For captured Africans, there was no safety except in common cause and the development of internal and spiritual fortitude. . . .
The only sound that would carry Africans over the bitter waters was the moan. Moans flowed through each wracked body and drew each soul toward the center of contemplation. . . . One imagines the Spirit moaning as it hovered over the deep during the Genesis account of creation [Genesis 1:2]. Here, the moan stitches horror and survival instincts into a creation narrative. . . . On the slave ships, the moan became the language of stolen strangers, the sound of unspeakable fears, the precursor to joy yet unknown. The moan is the birthing sound, the first movement toward a creative response to oppression, the entry into the heart of contemplation through the crucible of crisis.
- Barbara A. Holmes, Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church, second edition (Fortress Press: 2017), 45-46, 50, 52.
HT: from today's meditation from Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation

Friday, September 14, 2018

Walking out of a door into the fresh air

 "It is simply opening yourself to receive. The presence of God is like walking out of a door into the fresh air. You don't concentrate on the fresh air, you breathe it. And you don't concentrate on the sunlight, you just enjoy it. It is all around."
- From a lecture by Thomas Merton, to the monks at Gethsemani

Thursday, September 6, 2018

all good Catholics, even the Pope

we are sinners



From Pope Francis' homily, September 6, 2018. From Vatican News HERE.
“There are people who go through life talking about others, accusing others and never thinking of their own sins. And when I go to make my confession, how do I confess? Like a parrot? ‘Bla, bla, bla… I did this, this…’ But are you touched at heart by what you have done? Many times, no. You go there to put on make-up, to make-yourself up a little bit in order to look beautiful. But it hasn’t entered completely into your heart, because you haven’t left room, because you are not capable of accusing yourself.”

And so that first step is also a grace: the grace of learning to accuse oneself, and not others:

“A sign that a person does not know, that a Christian does not know how to accuse himself is when he is accustomed to accusing others, to talking about others, to being nosy about the lives of others. And that is an ugly sign. Do I do this? It’s a good question to get to the heart [of things]. Today let us ask the Lord for the grace, the grace to find ourselves face to face with Him with this wonder that His presence gives; and the grace to feel that we are sinners, but concretely, and to say with Peter: 'Depart from me, for I am a sinner'.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

true rest is a moment of contemplation


Francis and the Clowns
Notes from Francis' homily this morning:
There is false rest and there is true rest.

Society is thirsty for entertainment and holiday. We think that a "successful" person is one who can afford different kinds of pleasure. But this mentality slips towards the dissatisfaction of an anesthetized existence of entertainment that is not rest, but alienation and escape from reality.  Man has never rested as much as today, yet man has never experienced as much emptiness as today.

True rest is a moment of contemplation, of praise.

It is a time to look at reality and say: how beautiful life is. to say to God: thank you for your life, for your mercy, for all your gifts.

Make peace with life because life is precious.

Peace is chosen, it cannot be imposed and cannot be found by chance.

In the end, “all is grace”. For, as the Psalmist assures us, in God alone do our souls find rest.
- Pope Francis, homily at Casa Santa Marta, September 5, 2018

From Vatican News HERE

trust your aloneness

Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away... and th...

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