Despaired.


I am often despaired by the ongoing hate and violence that exists in humans. The murders of the Asian American women this week was heart breaking and is but a small example of the devastating reality of ongoing insidious fragmentation of the collective human body. Asian friends, I am grieving with you. I hope you are finding ways to tend to your soul and to rest.

It is good to allow these atrocities to bring us to our knees, to let our hearts stay broken, and to renew us in Jesus’ path of self-emptying conscious love.

Why let our hearts stay broken? I know I talk a lot about grief but it is our grief that enables us to pour out holy tears and move us towards meeting the real needs in our midst. Living with a broken heart is, as Francis Weller suggests, a type of soul activism because it is counter to the dominant western culture. He also says, “Our activism is directly connected to our heart’s ability to respond to the world. A congested heart, one burdened with unexpressed sorrow, cannot stay open to the world and, consequently, cannot be fully available for the healing work so needed at this time.” We know healing work is needed. Our hearts broken open allow us to experience that what is beating in our chest is an invincible fractal of God’s invincible heart.

How do we renew our commitment to the path of self-emptying and conscious love? I want to return to the themes I mentioned at the start of this Lenten season, repentance, self-examination, fasting and prayer, especially the former two. Hate and violence come from unacknowledged rejected, excluded, unintegrated, other-ed parts that live in shadows within us as individuals, as groups, etc. When I cannot accept the ‘other’ within, I will likely not be able to accept the ‘other’ I see. If I am cut off from any part, I am more capable of violence toward that part. So I’m spending time in self-examination, asking myself, “What am I rejecting, excluding, dismissing, and other-ing inside of me? Where is there hate and violence in me, toward me, toward other humans, toward anything and everything?” I’m opening myself to the practice of repentance. Remember repentance is about going beyond the small egoic mind into the larger mind that widens us, frees us to see from wholeness.

This larger mind is what we develop access to in our centering prayer and other contemplative practices and why I think it is so important to commit to something that brings us beyond our little mind. From the Larger Mind we can love. From Wholeness we can love. We can love, as Richard Rohr suggests in his Franciscan teaching, by loving things in and of themselves, as living images of God, not for what they do for or give us. In our contemplative practices we cultivate the capacity to love in such a way.

May your mind be open.

May your heart be wide.

May your body be at ease.

May you re-member yourself.

With love,

Heather


“I do not know how it works, but when a group of like-minded people committed to the transformative process are together, the force of the energy is certainly up a number of decibels higher. You do not have to do anything but sit still, and let your mind be quiet. . . Be still, and you will know, not by the knowledge of the mind, but by the knowledge of the heart, who God is and who you are."

— Thomas Keating

‘Twice Blessed’

So that I

stopped

there

and looked

into the waters,

seeing not only

my reflected face

but the great sky

that framed

my lonely figure

and after

a moment

I lifted my hands

and then my eyes

and I allowed

myself

to be astonished

by the great

everywhere

calling to me

like an old,

invisible

and unspoken

invitation,

made new

again

in the sun

and the spring,

and the cloud

and the light.

Like something

in one moment

both calling to me

and radiating

from where I stood,

as if I could

understand

everything

I had been given

and everything ever

taken from me,

as if I could be

everything

I have ever

learned

and everything

I could ever know,

as if

I knew

both the way

I had come

and, secretly,

the way

I was still

promised to go,

brought together,

like this, with the

yielding light and the symmetry

of the moving sky, caught in still waters.

Someone I have been,

and someone,

I am just

about to become,

something I am

and will be forever,

the sheer generosity

of being loved

through loving:

the miracle reflection

of a twice blessed life.

— David Whyte

“God inhales, drawing us into places where we gather together in the hope of tasting yet once again the communal mystery that is our life. And God exhales, sending all of us back out into the day by day circumstances in which we are to discover the communal mystery of God, one with us, one with others, one with the earth that sustains us.” — James Finley

In Radical Optimism, Beatrice Bruteau proposes leaning back as an image to describe our relationship with God. She paints a word picture from John’s Gospel of the beloved disciple who “reclined on the breast of Jesus” at the Last Supper, writing:

“I want to suppose St John positioned with his back to Jesus. Jesus is behind John, not face to face with him. Therefore, when John wished to move closer to Jesus, for instance to ask him a question, he just leaned back toward him.

“In order to move closer to the heart of Jesus, we “lean back toward” him by sinking back into the depth of our own consciousness, sinking down toward the center of our being. . . .

“Each deeper level that we sink to . . . brings us closer to the heart or center of Jesus, because it is bringing us closer to our own center. . . . As we move back and down and in toward our [own] center, we are overlapping, so to speak, with the reality of Jesus more and more, as we come to corresponding levels of his being. . . . We are coming to know the Sacred Heart from the inside. . . . And our “inside” is coming to be more and more coincident with his “inside.” His Heart is becoming the heart of our heart.”

And God leans. Rublev in his classic icon of the Trinity captures this. The three figures lean into each other, symbolizing that intimacy, relationship and a love that is self-giving, self-emptying and graciously receptive, is of the essence of God.

Rumi, says, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”

— Beatrice Bruteau, Patty Fawkner, CAC Daily Meditation

'Vernus'

1. Equinox

Today most especially

we hover in the balance.

Day meets dark in

equal parts,

but we —

we are tipping into the light.

2. Winter’s End

Out of a season

of pruning, pause, prudence,

of waiting waiting waiting,

we emerge:

bony, ashen creatures

lapping at dregs

weary of cold