I trust you are finding your way with the Eastertide (Ascensiontide) challenge given by Cynthia Bourgeault (you can read it here as well as listen to a podcast on the map of the worlds here) and shared here last week. The challenge is to engage the practices of fasting from story, stewarding our atmospheres, letting go of analyzing and introspecting, cultivating three-centered awareness in all we do, connecting to your subtle energy field, fasting from counting. These practices are in service of aiming our attention on the kingdom of heaven all around us and inside us, as well as to open further to assistance from Jesus and the conscious circle of humanity. They are also the work of a lifetime.
I encourage you to pick one or two, or a small piece of each of them that you find yourself curious about and start there. For example, the one I keep hearing people have a lot of energy around is fasting from the story of yourself. This is quite a challenge since in general we find our identity in our story, both from an overarching point of view when we consider our life up to this point and a moment to moment point of view when we perceive the current circumstances in our life. The way I see it, this challenge is in general about something Gurdjieff called identification. When we are identified, we are not free.
Here is a simple practice for us to work with should you choose. It is one of the inner tasks often offered in a wisdom school and one I shared with Cynthia's wider community this past Friday. The task is to become aware of various rhythms occurring simultaneously. For example, rhythms of our breath and heart beat, rhythms of the work we do (raking, responding to emails, washing dishes), rhythms of other beings around us (neighbors, children playing, birds circling in the air), etc.
As we bring our attention to the rhythms we find ourselves in, while at the same time including more of the rhythms around us within our field of perception, we begin to sense and feel the unifying coherent intelligence at every level. We begin to hear the rhythms as instruments playing together in an orchestra manifesting an invisible Oneness.
This wider perspective and awareness of connectivity can support us in Cynthias first Ascensiontide charge to fast completely from the story of yourself. This week, allow the awareness of another rhythm besides your own - a family member doing chores, birds chirping, a neighbor driving by, a spider spinning its web, flowers blooming - to be a reminder to make some room around your story. . . to relax around it and in so doing, detach from identifying with it. . . to as Alfred K LaMotte so aptly put it, “put some space around your story.” Here is the rest of the poem for you to linger with this week.
“Space Around Your Story”
Put some space around your story.
This tale of lack, betrayal, perpetually unfulfilled desire, is always a tale of the past.
The space you hold around it is now, blue sky more vast and still than any storm.
Don't try to stop the whirl and chatter of the mind.
Just stop believing it.
You could fill the hollow in every cell, the star-strewn emptiness in each atom of your body with this delicious breath.
What is real?
The Ancient Presence, pulse of tranquility, deepening sea of namelessness that turns to honey, drowning the myth of 'me' in the nectar of silence.
Friend, this secret work refreshes the earth and nourishes many souls.
When we do this work together we strengthen one another, drawing nourishment from and offering nourishment to the great cosmic web we are part of. Let’s keep up the work.
Quotes from this week's Pauses
“Yeshua says, The Father’s realm can be compared to a woman who takes a tiny bit of yeast, folds it into dough and makes great loaves out of it. Whoever has ears for this, listen!”
— Logion 96, transl. Lynn Bauman
O God, May I be yeast fit for the bread of this world. May I be a catalyst for growth and change in the lives of those around me. May I stay hidden and unseen but powerful and active in this secret, inner endeavor. AMEN
— Lynn Bauman
“We don’t come to heaven by avoiding hell or trying to sidestep it. We don’t come to clarity by avoiding confusion. We don’t come to freedom by avoiding that which is less than freedom. The truth is quite the opposite.
Our illusions—the beliefs we hold on to—are the very doorways to our freedom. We simply have to enter through them without grasping or pushing away. We must not believe them, but we must not run away from them either. We need to see each moment of apparent bondage as an invitation to freedom. Then it becomes an act of love, an act of compassion, to stop running away.”
"Contemplation is the highest expression of [hu]man's intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source. It knows the Source, obscurely, and inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes both beyond reason and beyond simple faith. For contemplation is a kind of spiritual vision to which both reason and faith aspire, by their very nature, because without it they must always remain incomplete. Yet contemplation is not vision because it sees ‘without seeing’ and knows ‘without knowing.’ It is a more profound depth of faith, a knowledge too deep to be grasped in images, in words or even in clear concepts. It can be suggested by words, by symbols, but in the very moment of trying to indicate what it knows the contemplative mind takes back what it has said, and denies what it has affirmed. For in contemplation we know by ‘unknowing.’ Or, better, we know beyond all knowing or ‘unknowing.’”
— Thomas Merton